Wow, what a full day! It’s only a few minutes past six and I’m already exhausted. Let’s see… a few things that we saw on our first full day in the Galapagos:
– A ton of frigate birds, many of the males with their bright red pouches inflated
– So many iguanas and lizards that we had to watch were we stepped
– Blue footed boobies with bright blue feet waddling in the middle of the path
– Green sea turtles swimming within ten feet of us
– White-tipped reef sharks
– Ginormous parrot fish
– A blue spiny-looking lobster
– Countless other fish that I couldn’t identify
– Playful sea lions turning circles in front of us in the water and blowing bubbles up to the surface
– A stingray slowly making it’s way along the bottom of the ocean floor
Welcome to the Galapagos! We started our day off early with a 7am breakfast. Then it was a Zodiac ride ashore to North Seymour island where we went for a three hour, mile and a half walk along a well-trod path (we stopped a lot). The island is flat with small, scrubby trees, and green because of all the recent rain. When we stepped off of the Zodiac and onto the wet rocks, there were two baby sea lions waiting for us. They could care less that we were only three feet away!
Another 15 feet brought us head to toe with a large land iguana basking in the sun. Of course everyone was ecstatic and snapped photo after photo, but after about 20 iguanas later, we all had enough lizard shots. The frigate birds, too, were sitting in just about every tree and flying high above our heads. Some of them had their red mating pouches inflated and were trying to attract the females by spreading their wings and making clacking noises with their beaks.
We also saw this little guy waddling down the path. He was quite happy to show off his blue feet for us.
We returned to the ship at around 10:30 and had an hour to rest before Paula (our Expedition Leader) gave a great talk about the geology of the Galapagos Islands while the ship repositioned to our afternoon destination. Basically, they were created by volcanic eruptions millions of years ago and there are still hotspots where the islands continue to be formed. After lunch it was time to get in the water. We took a Zodiac out to the edge of Rabida Island, then jumped into the water and let the current carry us along the rocky shoreline. As I mentioned above, we saw a ton of marine life. Unlike the Caribbean or Great Barrier Reef, though, the Galapagos isn’t known for its beautiful coral. Despite its lack of bright blue, green, pink, and red coral life, though, the Galapagos makes up for it with large schools of fish and a huge diversity of marine critters. C had his underwater camera, so he took some shots, but the battery died before we finished snorkeling. I had a magical moment when a green sea turtle swam straight toward me and when he was within four or five feet, the sun shone through the water, illuminating him with sunlight. Unfortunately that was after C’s camera battery died.
After snorkeling, we had 15 minutes to rinse off, change, and stash our snorkeling gear on the sun deck before we headed ashore to Rabida Island for a late afternoon walk. Rabida is unique because its soil is fiery red due to sand made from lava with a high iron oxide content. The walk was easy, but we had beautiful views of the green sloping hills of the low volcano and I stopped to take pictures every few feet of lizards, cacti, spiders, birds, etc…
As the sun set, it was time to head back to the ship for recap and dinner. Tomorrow will be more snorkeling, hiking, and a Zodiac cruise!