Our original destination is Socorro but due to incoming weather, we were briefly re-routed to Magdelena Bay to snorkel with marlins during the sardine run. I have to admit there was some initial disappointment in the change of plans but boy, was I wrong!
On day one we were introduced to our local panga (small boat) captains who are skilled in spotting underwater action. From there we embarked on two days of a sea-based game of leapfrog. Eyes are peeled for a whale spout, diving sea birds, sea lions, breaching dolphins, or/and marlín. Once animals are spotted the race is on! The captains and dive guides read direction & speed to expertly maneuver the panga to a safe position in front of the animals. Meanwhile, snorkelers suit up and perch on the edge of the boat, eagerly awaiting the cue “vámonos, vámonos, vámonos!”. At that, we launch ourselves into the wáter for a few moments to observe (and hopefully photograph) the wildlife before they move past us. We quickly pass fins, cameras, and weights to board the panga, which then races ahead to do it all again! Over two days we were awarded with nearly all the life Magdalena Bay harbors:
• Dozens of marlín striking sardine bait balls, their fluorescent blue stripes flashing past us at impressive speeds.
• Sea lions enter the bait ball frenzy launching an offensive attack against both the marlín and the sardines. They move like sleek underwater ballerinas, gracefully forcing the marlín to the depths while snacking on the sardines.
• We swam within an arm’s length of multiple pods of humpback whales, so close you can look into their beautiful blue-grey eyes that are disarmingly human-like. Within a moment’s glance, you sense a mesmerizing depth of wisdom and emotion.
• The cherry on top was a super-pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins launching themselves into aerial flips and twists. Once in the wáter, it’s sensory overload – hearing their click-click-click of communication, seeing countless dolphins whiz past from below, above, and besides, swimming in close to say hi.
All of these sightings lasted anywhere from a glance to, when we were lucky, several minutes. It’s incredibly fast-paced. And just when fatigue starts to set in, the panga captain spots something else, the adrenaline spikes, you quickly suit up & get ready to hurl yourself back into the wáter. Two days of snorkeling concluded with unanimous smiles, laughter, and cheers amongst all guests and crew.
The teamwork between the Gallant Lady crew & local panga captains is a well-oiled machine. They all want the guests to have a good trip but only at a safe & respectful distance to the animals.
Needless to say – the detour was more than worth it. Magdelena Bay is a magical place. THANK YOU to the Nautilus crew & local captains. Now onto Socorro where more adventure awaits!
- Katie B., USA onboard the Nautilus Gallant Lady