Saturday, January 16, 2010


Galapagos Hawk Watching the Santa Cruz

It is peaceful in the Galapagos. We are woken up with soft music for ten minutes or so before the announcement sounds for breakfast. We were anchored off Española Island where we set off for a long hike and landed on lava rocks filled with sally lightfoot crabs and marine iguanas. The rocks were littered with sea lions who did not want to get out of our way when we came by. Our guide told us to clap our hands to get them moving and they reluctantly and very slowly slid off the path. There were more sea lions sunning themselves on the sandy beach. They seem to 'rule' everywhere we go, and their lack of fear of humans is a little unsettling.

Marine Iguana

Pelican Ready to Fly

Sally Lightfoot Crab

Blue footed Boobie Stare

This island is wonderful because of its spectacular cliffs plunging down to the sea. The Nazca boobies nest along the cliffs and mothers were sitting on eggs and on baby boobies. Several winged albatrosses were nesting in their traditional nesting area. Most had flown south already, with only the young ones getting ready to fly off, some still molting and losing their baby feathers. Since most of the group had flown away, it was uncertain whether the left over young ones would survive. Albatrosses fly for months without touching land, I believe their next stop is at the bottom of South America. Although I have come to Española several times over the years, I have never seen so many albatrosses. We saw several Galapagos hawks, finches, lava lizards, gulls, doves, and more marine iguanas surfing in and out to sea under the rocks. The views were magnificent out to sea, with a blow hole to top it all off.


Our Fearless Leader

My favourite activity was snorkeling. The boat moved from Española to Floreana Island during lunch, and we snorkeled at 'Devil's Crown' , where we had seen sharks in the past. I insisted that Maya wear a wet suit and then I joined her and had an absolutely wonderful time looking at colourful fish and sharks and sea stars and coral. I worried about Maya too much to relax for the early part of the activity, but later decided to enjoy the experience and look more closely at my surroundings. I expected a longer time snorkeling, but we were stopped before we had a chance to get tired, so I am eager for more tomorrow.

Underwater Colours

Schools of Fish

We walked on Floreana Island to see flamingos in a lagoon and sea turtles breeding on the beach. They were waiting in the surf, ready to lay their eggs in large holes they dig in the sand. I learned that the turtles always choose beaches facing east so that the rise of the moon can lead the baby turtles out to sea. Unfortunately their survival rate is extremely low and there are many predators ready to scoop up the yummy baby turtles. The water was full of stingrays feeding. I did not dare enter the water.

Sunset is rapid and by 6:30 PM it is dark. I was proud of myself when I looked at the stars from the top deck and was able to identify Orion's belt, the big and little dippers and the milky way. Perhaps I saw Scorpio as well. The sky was full of stars, with Mars shining brightly. Quite a stunning sight.

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