Isla Isabel is known as the “Galapagos of Mexico” because of its large numbers of nesting birds and iguanas. In 1981 Isla Isabel was given national park status and in 2003 was made a World Heritage site. On January 1st we departed from San Blas and motored 40 miles northwest to Isla Isabel where we arrived shortly before sunset.
The next morning Mark went over to a nearby boat that was having trouble raising its anchor to offer assistance. They said that they felt they could manage their anchor but could we go out and help the s/v The Rose that was trying to free a whale from a net? We fired up the engines, woke the kids and headed out to the s/v The Rose that was about ¾ mile off the island. John from The Rose had been in the water for at least an hour and was tiring quickly. They were looking for a strong swimmer and Neil volunteered. Two other boats also came out from the anchorage to assist. The rescue operation had started the day before but had to be abandoned as daylight slipped away. Fortunately the whale was found again the next morning and was still alive!
|Mark, Neil and the whale|
We motored out to near where a marine specialist was directing operations from a dingy and John was in the water with the whale. Mark and Neil paddled our dingy over while I stood off on Three Hour Tour and Lisa was our official photographer.
Neil went into the water and an exhausted John was pulled into the dingy but before Neil could reach the whale it began to swim away and he couldn’t catch it. A call came over the radio from one of the other boats that the whale appeared to be free which brought cheers from everyone. Mark and Neil came back to the boat with a dingy full of fishing net and we headed back to the anchorage feeling pretty pleased even though our role had been somewhere between miniscule and non-existent.
On the way back to the anchorage a small pod of 3 or 4 whales came right up behind the boat. During the videoing of their approach I sat down, not sure that they wouldn’t hit the boat. You can tell from our dialogue on the video that we were somewhat concerned. We know of a boat that was hit by a whale at anchor in La Cruz so it does happen. Anyway, at the last minute they went around us.
Later that morning I took this video of a whale that was repeatedly slapping its tail on the water. When he started slapping I didn’t get the camera because I was sure he would stop right away but as he continued I decided to try to get a video. I estimate the whale slapped its tale in this fashion between 30 and 40 times and I was able to catch the tail end (ha ha) of it.
In the afternoon we went to the island to see the boobies, frigate birds and iguanas. Even when they are nesting, the birds are not particularly afraid of people because there are few natural predators. The boobies usually have only one egg but this proud momma had two.
The frigate birds nest in the small trees on the island
and every tree had numerous nests. The boobies nest on the ground. The brown boobies build a nest with straw but the blue-footed boobies just make a slight depression in the dirt.
|Proud brown boobie parents with their chick|
|Pair of blue-footed boobies with their egg|
|Frigate bird momma with her chick. So cute!|
|Male frigate bird|
Isla Isabel was formed by volcanic activity as evidenced by the geology (according to Neil). The caldera of this extinct volcano is now a lake in the centre of the island.
The kids opted to stay another day so the next day was spent collecting sea glass, snorkelling and walking the trails of the island. We left Isla Isabel at 4:30 pm for an overnight trip back to Chacala. The Quadrantid meteor shower was to be that night. It is a brief shower and we didn’t see any meteors until around 4 am. It was also very near full moon which may have obscured some of the fainter meteors.
We made a brief stop at Chacala and carried on to Jaltemba were we had lunch at Latitude 21, a restaurant owned by an American expat.
|Lunch in Jaltemba|
From there we headed back to La Cruz from where the kids would fly home.