Galapagos Day 3: Espanola excursions (trying not to trip over the iguanas!)
Galapagos Islands Travel Blog› entry 244 of 251 › view all entries
September 23rd, 2008 – by: cmgervais
Last night was our first night onboard, so I think the ocean should have given us a break. But that was not the case... we rocked the night away. Luckily, I didn't feel seasick, just annoyed that the bed kept moving. It was hard to sleep, although Steve was helped greatly by a anti-motion tablet.
After an early (and really good) buffet breakfast we all boarded two Zodiacs bound for Gardner Bay on the island of Espanola. The beach -- which seemed like white sugar, but it was actually pulvarized white coral -- was COVERED in sunbathers. More Galapagos sea lions, of course! Daniel walked us down the beach, stopping frequently for informative lectures about the species. Very interesting. He then let us explore on our own (within boundaries, as the park service limits where humans can and cannot tred).
Steve was still kind of dazed by the anti-motion pill he had taken and opted out of the next excursion -- snorkeling at Gardner Island. The water was deeper here, and colder than yesterday. Jumping in was quite a shock to the system! After just a few minutes we were joined by two sea lions -- they are so playful! I could swim with these guys every day and would never grow tired of their antics.
After lunch and "siesta time" (most of us read on the sun deck) (Steve was STILL passed out), we had another excursion. This stop was at Suarez Point, on the other end of Espanola. The ground there was blanketed by iguanas (we had to watch where we were walking lest we trip over one!), and sea lions roamed freely as usual. Right away we noticed a couple of dead baby sea lions. We speculated that maybe this island was unhealthy for them or something, but Daniel explained that the babies die on every island (sometimes when the mom goes fishing she gets eaten instead.
The path we followed from the beach was very rocky, and I quite nearly fell down when I saw the first Blue Footed Booby sitting RIGHT on the path. Oh, I just love these birds! They have a perpetually perplexed countenance, and of course, those cute blue feet. We walked right alongside many of them, including some who were sitting on eggs, seemingly right out in the open. (Wouldn't a nest be handy, and more comfortable? Instead, they perch right on the rocky ground). They always looked at us with mild curiosity, and never moved out of our way.
We saw many other birds as well.
We also met the Wave Albatross, a bird that spends up to four year years in a row at sea, returning to land only when it is time to mate. We were thrilled to spot several babies (again, they nest right next to the walking path and don't seem to mind the tourist traffic at all). The babies are big, brown, and ugly, appearing to be no relation at all to their sleeker parents.
Funny enough, the albatross does not seem to be particularily adept at landing. Many times they would first do a fly-by to check out the situation. Sometimes they would abort on final approach for a go-round. And to take off, they need to plunge off a cliff and catch the wind... we saw one funny albatross waddling along the tourist path from inland, looking for a cliff, I guess. I just can't explain how incredible it was to see these animals close up like this, unphased by our observations. I love it, love it, love it here!
The evening followed the same pattern as before -- we had some time for relaxing, a long discussion with Daniel (who lectured on human presence on the islands in preparation for our visit to Floreana tomorrow), then a great dinner.
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