We began our day at Islas San Benito, with some of our group cruising around the islands in our Zodiacs while the rest made a shore landing in a pebbly cove to explore the island on foot. The shore party hiked across the island in search of elephant seals, as Islas San Benito is a breeding ground for these blubbery giants. Our guests crossed sandy flats dotted with burrows, the breeding grounds of Cassin’s auklets.

The short hike across the island paid off, as several of the female elephant seals in the rookery had recently given birth to brand new pups. Substantially larger male elephant seals, with the trunk-like faces that give this species their name, also patrolled the beach and cruised through the surf. The wrinkled babies and mighty males provided plenty of photo opportunities for our guests, who returned to the ship with their memory cards substantially fuller than when they had arrived.

The afternoon saw us continuing our journey south, and we were visited by a particularly energetic pod of short-beaked common dolphins who burst through the swells as they flocked to our bow. While the dolphins rode with us for a while, delighting everyone with their leaps and twirls, a couple stayed with us for another ten minutes after the others had left, zigzagging in unison, leading us still further down this beautiful coast.