Open Ocean Safari | Bahía Magdalena
Previous Expeditions: 2015, 2016, & 2017
2017, March 16-20
2016, November 19-21
During Pelagic Life's last expedition to Bahia Magdalena (Magbay), Baja California Sur we encountered the event that brought us to this part of the peninsula in the first place. The striped marlin baitball phenomenon is a rare event that happens in certain years during fall. During the last 6 years we have only encountered what we like to call the "Mexican Sardine Run" 2/6 seasons. This year the sardines stayed near Magbay and our guests were able to encounter three days of unparalleled encounters. Dozens of sardine baitballs spread across a 2-3 nautical mile area meant each boat had multiple baitballs to dive in. Some baitballs were static and allowed for close encounters while others were moving fast and were being chased by 30+ marlin. On the way back the ocean greeted us with 6 playful orcas moving south in deep blue waters near the peninsula. A great way to end our 2016 Pelagic Safari Expeditions and to kick start our future documentary film "Mexico Pelagico 2" in 4k quality.
Oct 15-17, 2015
Our last 2015 Safari ended the season with a golden star. This safari was organized as a birthday gift for a 15 year old girl. We felt a lot of pressure because even though they were well aware of the expectations of preceding a shark we wanted for her to have the birthday she asked for. There is no guarantee what will we see at the open ocean, we think that it makes even more magical.
Thankfully we managed to lure a silky on the second day, and he stayed with us until we had enough (so to say, because you can never get enough of this creature). This group knew very well how to be in the outdoors, and a very special event was that we got to spearfish our own food, and the local restaurants put a little bit of their own cuisine secrets.
Aug 28-31, 2015
Even though most of the people came by their own it was our biggest safari yet. The vibes of this group were outstanding, and everybody got along right away. and are still in touch to this day. We were all witnesses to that hypnotizing creature that is capturing more and more attention from people all over the world: The majestic Shark. More than half of our guests are already looking to book again as a group for 2016.
Aug 13-15, 2015
This was a special Safari, it was going to be an exclusive Expedition so our two new members of Pelagic Life could see and witness the current operation. At last notice two teachers signed up for the Safari and it was the best thing that could have happened to us: They were one of the most inspiring and motivational people we have encountered and have had the pleasure to host.
Jun 12-14, 2015
It was the first time that we took minors into our safari. It was very fulfilling to watch our future generations start to get involved with wildlife. We had the luck to witness two different types of sharks two silkies one day and a mako the next day. Even tough they were low on expectations, the open ocean received us with a big surprise.
May 29-31, 2015
Even though we were a big party it was great to see all the people interested our Project. We need to be aware that in the open ocean it is not a guarantee that we will interact with sharks but without getting our hopes down we had some luck we managed to lure a Smooth hammerhead on the second day.
What we love about our oceans is that no matter if we have encounters with sharks or not there is always life waiting for us out there.
April 23-26, 2015
From the beginning the group was very enthused by the trip. All of the divers were shark lovers which made the trip from La Paz to San Carlos even easier than usual!
The first day started as usual with breakfast at a small local shop with our friend Patricia who is always there to give us hopes even when the weather conditions are against us. All the divers were surprised by the warmth of the townspeople towards the group. Once on the boats, we took the chance to go check one of our recently deployed buoys which work as fish aggregating devices and started chumming in its vicinity. After almost 4 hours of chumming, hope was fading until we saw the dorsal fin of a small mako shark that came up to the boat and started swimming around it. However, as soon as the divers went into the water the mako swam off. To our relief, a blue shark and another small mako showed up right after and stayed with us for more than an hour! On the way back we came upon a large school of common dolphins which is not uncommon in the area.
The second day was the conditions were harder. Wind had picked up conditions to chum were not ideal, but the group had so much energy that we chose to ride it out. Once again we witnesses the elegance of a blue shark and the shyness of another small mako who stayed around for at least an hour and a half.
On the third day, due to strong winds, the safety of the bay gave us a chance to pay a visit to the fishing camp where the project was born. We also had a great time at the sand dunes that are a mesmerizing sight in the middle of the bay. Further along, the “Isla de patos”, a small isolated island, gave us a spectacle with all of the migratory bird species present in the area that use it as nesting grounds. All in all, another great trip with nature’s marvels at the centre of it!
Photos by: Almudena Villarreal, Christian Vizl, Fernando Olea
March 8-10, 2015
When you go out to the sea you have to expect the unexpected. We were in for big surprises on this trip having a chance to spot grey whales that were still in the area along with other gentle behemoths of the sea. The sea was very calm, with winds not even reaching 7 knots making the boat trips particularly calm. Our chum slick suffered the effects of lack of wind and only two hammerheads came up to the boat. However, a flat surface allowed us to spot quite a few turtles, and not one, but several blue whales that stayed around for the whole trip! We discovered that they are the best magicians in the world: disappearing into the deep with one gentle swing of their tails.
Baja, as always, delivered, and had a last surprise in store for us, breaching humpbacks kept us entertained before heading to the sand dunes and the "Isla de patos" to take a few pictures of the different migratory birds that were around at the time
August 8-11, 2014
Given the success of the first summer trip, expectations for this group were high. This time we came out with another 3 boats and 12 divers in search of large pelagics. The buoy had less predators and more baitfish, which lead us to the conclusion that the season was probably ending. However, as we jumped in the water a juvenile whale shark came cruising out of nowhere. After we got bored of the mahi mahi and wahoo on the buoy we started chumming. Silky sharks took about 1 hour to arrive on the first day and under an hour the following day. However the big surprise was a large smooth hammer head that came in with bursting attitude. We spent two hours in the water with this large smooth hammer head and two other smaller hammer heads accompanied by at least 5 silky sharks. In Magbay you always have to expect the unexpected!
July 19-22, 2014
Summer always brings surprises to Magbay. The warm water is a source of large pelagics like silky sharks, mahi mahi, wahoo and tuna. In Magbay this weekend we had the whole party in one spot. Within a one mile radius we saw rivers of mahi mahi in a feeding frenzy, dozens of wahoo and silky sharks everywhere we looked. Everything was congregating in the buoy we had set up several months in advance. When we chummed for sharks the first shark showed up in less than 30 minutes (a new record). Three boats and 12 divers had two days of none-stop pelagic action in crystal blue waters.
June 21-22, 2014
We had the chance to take another go with a very peaceful mako, it stayed with us for at least an hour and a half and kept on coming up to the boat. Water was deep blue making it an incredible experience; watching a powerful mako swim peacefully beside you in such waters is one of our dreams come true. One of the last blue sharks of the season was also very jumpy and came in for a quick lunch and left us, probably because the water was getting too warm for him to feel at ease. Last but not least we also had a visit from one of the curious silkies in the area which stayed for a while with us. As we the weekend was coming to a close, we saw a very large shape: never before had we witnessed the immensity of a blue whale!
June 9-11, 2014
2014 was an odd year due to the “Niño” current which allowed us to have hotter water temperatures earlier in the year. This also gave us a chance to see hot water and cold water species interact: two blue sharks and a silky shark came up to the boat and coexisted peacefully (only one “warning nibble” from one of the blues to the silky) and we realized that silkies are very curious coming up close and personal for a check!
This was the first time we saw that hammers were starting to arrive to our research area. We saw one large female but she did not want to stay and play: hammers are very shy sharks and we need to let them feel comfortable before going into the water.
May 30-31, 2014
Weather was also tricky during this trip, showing us that planning a day out in the sea is just like a coin toss: you never know if conditions will change in the last minute, but for the team it is always worth a try, the sea always has surprises in store. We did manage to attract blue sharks even with the windy conditions but only one of them chose to stay in the surface and play with us.
May 2-4, 2014
Going out on an eerie morning, with a bay completely covered by fog is a sight for sore eyes. Wind conditions allowed us to have a very comfortable trip but we did learn something: without any wind, the chum slick will just stay around the boat, making it more difficult to attract sharks. The water was not as blue as we would have liked it to be but we had the chance to interact with our first mako shark which was about 1.5 meters long (4 feet 9”) and was soon to be joined by a couple of blue sharks. We also had the chance to see a school of yellowtail swing by!
April 22-26, 2014
This was our longest stay in Magbay during the year. The wind picked up during the week and reached 17+ knots with high waves and swells that made for very uncomfortable boat rides. We did manage to attract blue sharks but with so much movement on the surface the sharks seemed uneasy and out of their comfort zone, they were just looking for an easy lunch and would leave the boat as soon as they had had their fill. Due to the wind conditions being so severe on the last day we chose to stay within the safety of the bay and went looking for a rogue grey whale which stayed a bit longer than the rest in the area and took advantage of our time at the sand dunes.
March 28-30 , 2014
We consider this trip the benchmark we would like to reach for every trip we make. We had the chance of being accompanied by one of the national experts on sharks: Jorge “Chino” Loria from Playa del Carmen’s Phantom Divers came with us and was surprised by what we saw. The amount of life was incredible. Everything started when we shipped out and saw a couple of grey whales cruising in the bay.
As we were leaving the bay, we came upon a pod of pilot whales, we had only spotted 2 females and a large male swimming but when we went into the water it was a whole different story with at least 12 of them swimming by. We were also able to interact with a large Mola Mola or moon fish. However, the best was yet to come, after only a meager 40 minutes of chumming, our first blue shark came up to the boat and was followed by at least another dozen! They kept on coming for another hour and a half and we had to leave as things were getting better and better!