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Day 4 - October 3, 2008 - Bahia Magdalena

By Claudia Roedel

Position: 24° 39’6 N, 112° 07’3

Early morning the Mexican authorities came onboard as this is our first stop in Mexico and we have to clear the ship. By 08:00, the ship was cleared and we could lower the scout boats. We saw a small patch of mangrove on the map, and Ignacio, our Expedition Leader, wanted to check if it was possible to operate a Zodiac tour here. We drove the Zodiacs, looking for the channel that would allow us to enter the mangrove. We were greeted by hundreds of shore birds that were just waking up: whimbrels, godwits, sandpipers and one oystercatcher were wading in the shallows. There were groups of gulls and brown pelicans floating around, and some sea lions were swimming around the ship.

At 08:30, we took the guests on the Zodiacs and headed to the mangroves. The birds were an awesome sight as we drove into the main channel. Mangroves are a fascinating ecosystem – a community of trees that are resistant to salt water. On the front lines we could see the Red Mangroves, with their long stilt roots, that gave the impression that the trees were walking towards the sea. The special roots enable the trees to live in the soft mud of estuaries, and filter the salt off the water. They are covered with small structures that allow the roots to breathe. Further inland we saw another species: the Black Mangrove. These are less resistant to salt water, and occur further from the sea, where the water is brackish.

We drove around for around one hour, enjoying the closeness with nature, and then disembarked on land. Some chose to walk over the dunes, and cross the narrow spit of sand (about 1 km wide) to reach the Pacific. The dunes were covered in green, due to the fact that it had been raining lately. The plants help stabilize the dunes that move slowly from west to east. There were some interesting things to see: a snake sleeping, coiled, under a bush; coyote tracks on the sand; a scorpion.

Others chose to swim. We entered the water close to the landing. There was quite a current going upstream! This was because the tide was going up, and sea water was being pushed inland. The water was refreshing as we swam against the current, and the shore birds eyed us warily…

After we were all back onboard the ship, the Captain took us out of the bay and headed north. He and Ignacio were looking for a suitable beach to do some swimming in the afternoon, but the time was not in our favor and we had to turn south without landing. However we were rewarded by a large pod of Dolphins, mostly Common and Spotted Dolphins, that came to play around the ship. They were very active, leaping out of the water, racing each other and the ship, and some enjoyed a ride on the ship’s bow wave. If that was not enough, one Fin Whale, the second largest whale in the world, was sighted off the starboard bow. Captain Rochè slowed the ship down so that we could have a closer view. It was a most enjoyable day.

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