Galapagos Day 4: Floreana flamingoes and a trip to the 'post office.'
Galapagos Islands Travel Blog› entry 245 of 251 › view all entries
Our excursion today was to the island of Floreana (a.k.a. Santa Maria), which was one of the earliest to be inhabited by humans. There was noticeably far less wildlife here, because many of the animal species introduced by humans have affected the endemic population considerably. For example, the Floreana mockingbird is extinct on the island (it still exists on two small nearby islets and is one of the world's rarest birds), probably because of feral cats, black rats, and goats (which eat their food).
Our first stop was Cormorant Bay, where mangrove trees (and a few sea lions) dotted the olive-colored sand beach. We walked inland to Cormorant Lagoon, where flamingoes were busy dredging the mucky bottom in search of shrimp, the food that gives the birds their pink color.
After we circled the bay, we walked back to shore, where we saw a couple of turtles swimming just off shore and many turtles tracks on the sand. Green sea turtles nest on this island starting in December, and Daniel said that sometimes the females come ashore early to "check things out" in advance of the big event. There were also DOZENS of sting rays right off shore, appearing as dark shadows in the water. For this reason, we could not go swimming or snorkeling here... they are too easy to step on and apaprently that doesn't feel very good at all.
Walking further along the beach, saw saw our first and only Galapagos Penguin, but unfortunately the little guy was dead.
We then explored on our own a bit, picking our way across the black rocks to observe hundreds of red Sally Lightfoot crabs (I love that name). The adults are bright red, and are so different from the dark youth that they appear to be a different species altogether. I took way too many pictures as usual...and I will delete half of them later. As usual.
Later that morning, we had the most incredible snorkle trip to one of the Floreana Islets (it may have been called Devil's Crown... not sure). There was an unbeliable number of fish here. I have never seen so many different types all in one place... the water was THICK with them. And they were HUGE! The current swept us along briskly, and I just watched the incredible show pass below me.
After lunch, we took our Zodiacs back to Floreana for a couple more sights, which were both pretty lame, frankly. First was a lava tunnel... a black hole in the lava. Period. We descended with insufficient footwear and not enough light (Daniel our guide is great, but he did not prepare us for this excursion in the least). I slipped several times, scratching and ruining my nice sunglasses. There was water in the bottom and I waded around a bit, thinking the tunnel would lead back to the beach (hence its name, lava TUNNEL). But it didn't, and we turned around and went back out the same way we came in. I hated nearly every second of this defective adventure.
Our vaguely disgruntled and sweaty group was then lead to the "post office.
After this, we went back to the beach for snorkling.
In the evening, we all stayed up a bit later and had a couple drinks, watched the stars and talked about pretty much everything but politics. We have a fun, smart group so this was a good time. I guess the sea lions thought we were fun too, because two of them actually boarded the boat! We found them sleeping on the transom, and one of them snarled at us when we accidently woke him up (it is hard to be quiet when sea lions come on board your boat). He jumped off into the water, but the other continued his nap. Sea lion pirates? Yep, just another day in the Galapagos.