Day 9 |
Oct 08, 2008

Isla San Jose

By Claudia Roedel

Position: 24° 52.2’ N 110° 34.5’ W

Just before sunrise, the scout Zodiacs were dropped in the water. Ignacio, our Expedition Leader, together with our Captain, Fabien Rochè, decided to try out a new place that we hadn’t visited before. They had a Zodiac out with sonar to scout ahead of the ship, and Ignacio and the rest of the Expedition Team went on a different Zodiac to check the lagoon they had seen on the map.

It was a beautiful sunrise, a red orb slowly climbing, and beautiful clouds with bright colors everywhere. We could see the Baja Peninsula in the background, and in the early morning light, we could see neat horizontal stripes. The Geologists explain to us that this is evidence that those mountains were once underwater, either a bay or a lake, where silt deposited on the bottom, creating the horizontal stripes. Later, tectonic movements have lifted these deposits, and they were eroded by wind and water that sculpted what we see today.

We found the entrance to the lagoon, and at 8:30 we took the passengers on a Zodiac tour. The channel meandered amongst the mangrove trees, and eventually opened up on a large and shallow lagoon. It was quiet, not many birds moved, but very scenic. On the other side of the lagoon there was another channel that led to the open water, and we found ourselves near a cluster of rocks.

On the smaller of them, there perched some pelicans and blue-footed boobies. On the larger, there was a collection of houses! It was a fishermen community. Seven houses in total, including one “vacation home” of an American family. They were pulling their boats onto the beach, having returned already from their early morning fishing. We talked with them and asked permission to come ashore. Around one of the houses there was an impressive collection of whale bones: about 5 skulls and many ribs and vertebrae. On the top of the hill sat a small chapel. Most of the houses had solar panels to provide electricity, and on an elevated position there were some water tanks. Water has to be brought in from town, a good two-hour boat ride.

We set up the snorkel boats. There was a slight current, so we anchored two Zodiacs, one upstream in relation to the other. We could then jump in the water from one Zodiac, and drift snorkel towards the one downstream.

The pelicans and boobies did not seem to be bothered by our activity and mostly remained on their perches watching us warily. It was our last chance to snorkel during this voyage, and we had a good number of takers. And it was fabulous!!!! The water was absolutely clear, and there were many LARGE fish: Bumphead Parrotfish, Triggerfish, Balloon fish, Spanish Hogfish; clouds of Sergeant Majors and Scissortail Chromis; large starfish. Someone even saw a Mahi-mahi.

After lunch there was time for a well-deserved siesta before we attended the very interesting lecture by professor Toby Musgrave about plants that changed the world. He talked about some key plants, like tea, rubber, and tobacco that influenced nations and shaped history.