Magdalena Bay - Mexico Sardine Run & Striped Marlins

Magdalena Bay

Marlin & Bait Balls Mexico Sardine Run

“Up to 50 striped marlin were taking turns one by one, slicing in at high speed and attacking clueless sardine,  while the rest of the marlin lurked under the big bait ball pressing the tiny fish against the surface. Dozens of California sea lions were hunting as I’ve never seen before. The whole scenario showed me the top predators role in an ecosystem and  how they share their feeding strategy with other marine species creating very established hierarchy between them. It  amazes me most when this happens underwater. I think we still have a lot to learn from every single animal found on that aqua medium. If somebody asked me which is the trip I wait every year to happen, I would say 100% the Mexican sardine run with striped marlins!”

— David S

Striped Marlin of Magdalena Bay

Every fall, the waters outside of Magdalena Bay are home to a deep ocean upwelling, which combine with warm waters to create perfect conditions for massive schools of sardine in the cobalt blue, shallow ocean water. The surrounding waters teem with life with bait balls and predators from seabirds to blue and mako sharks, sea lions, whales, dolphins and the ocean’s fastest fish, the striped marlin (Kajikia audax). Marlin can swim as fast as 50 mph (80 kmh) and it’s the thrill of a lifetime to be in the water next to a bait ball with marlin whizzing past you, dorsal fins full erect. Extra bonus is the hundreds of turtles often seen on the surface.

Magdalena Bay is a gorgeous place to visit just for the pristine beauty, mangroves and giant sand dunes of the outer islands. We work closely with a group of local panga drivers who know these waters like the back of their hands. Captain G, for example, starting driving a fishing panga 42 years ago when he was 12 years old. He became captain at age 14. And by 18 he had saved up enough money to buy his own panga and stopped fishing to concentrate on eco-tourism. First with whale watching and then with crazy divers (like us!) who wanted to see sharks instead of fishing for them, and then in 2016, for the first time, putting divers in the water around the bait balls. We are very lucky and glad to be working side by side with Captain G and his family and friends in the local community.

This is a deeply personal experience with maximum five to six guests per panga, guided by a divemaster and a local captain. Divers and non-divers are equally welcome. Limited scuba diving is available by prior request on sites like the wreck of a WW1 submarine.

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