Day Three – Wednesday, May 30th
We spent most of the day around the island of San Pedro Martír. This is a high, large island, perhaps 3 miles in length. It’s another very important island for seabirds, and in the sun from a distance it shines white with guano. Its cliff ledges and slopes are loaded with many thousands of Blue-footed and Brown Boobies, with Yellow-footed Gulls, and a few Red-billed Tropicbirds and several pairs of Peregrines also nesting. We saw one Peregrine perched in the entrance of a high grotto that must be its nest site. Magnificent Frigatebirds, those pirates of the air, ride the updrafts looking for an opportunity to steal food from returning boobies.
The island is rimmed with groups of California Sea Lions and clear waters full of colorful fish. One sea lion was suffering a deep, raw wound on its neck, apparently from tangling in a gillnet.
We saw the fish only from kayaks and zodiacs; past sightings of Bull and Great White Sharks spell no swimming. In the past, guano companies employed Yaqui Indian laborers for the dangerous and back-breaking work of mining thousands of years worth of accumulated guano. It must have been a miserable, exiled existence. The islands slopes are dotted with rock walls and walks placed by the laborers. Their lasting legacy is the rats that still destroy eggs and chicks of nesting birds. But the rats’ days are numbered. Conservationists are planning a rat-eradication assault, probably sometime within the next year or so.
After exploring the shoreline and shore caves of the island we headed north. We soon saw several billfish, either Striped Marlin or Sailfish, leaping repeatedly, gleaming in the sun. And in just a few miles, with the island still a major presence in our wake, we ran into high-flying bottlenose dolphins—and several acrobatic groups of Sperm Whales breaching and tail-slapping. We stayed with the whales all afternoon, and several times groups of up to nine whales were lolling peacefully so close to the ship’s rail that we could look right down at them. The several-dozen whales included a baby so young it still trailed part of its umbilical cord, with its tail still a little curled from being in the womb. A couple of crew members got into the water and filmed the mother and baby, sharing incredible video views later on.
It was a day of beauty in the company of wondrous animals.