Galapagos Day 4: Floreana flamingoes and a trip to the 'post office.'

Galapagos Islands Travel Blog

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Urchin display at Cormorant Bay.


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.

Flamingos and desolation at Cormorant Lagoon.
There were dozens of flamingoes, including two babies (not yet pink). The landscape was gray and almost mournful, the atmosphere so quiet. It was a very peaceful place.

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.

The mucky, brackish shore at Cormorant Lagoon.
.. so sad.

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.

I wish you could see the size of this Parrotfish.
It was cold, but I didn't want to get out. Wonderful.

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.
Yeah, this is fun.
" In the 18th century whalers kept a wooden barrel here that served as post office. Mail could be picked up by passersby, and delivered to their destination. Now, there is a collection of wooden signs and boxes (looking like a bonfire waiting to happen), and tourists place addressed postcards in a mailbox for other tourists to pick up. We looked through the postcards for addresses near our homes, so that we could hand deliver the cards according to tradition. Several people in our group had also written out cards to leave there, but I think everyone forgot them on the boat (along with the flashlights). We all left empty-handed. This was OK, but I am really here for the wildlife, and would rather spend my time on that.

After this, we went back to the beach for snorkling.
We have a guest!
I hadn't brought my gear, but I wished I had ... the boat was a good distance away and it would have been fun to swim back to it. Matt and John from our group did this, and saw a turtle. I was jealous!

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.


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Urchin display at Cormorant Bay.
Urchin display at Cormorant Bay.
Flamingos and desolation at Cormor…
Flamingos and desolation at Cormo…
The mucky, brackish shore at Cormo…
The mucky, brackish shore at Corm…
I wish you could see the size of t…
I wish you could see the size of …
Yeah, this is fun.
Yeah, this is fun.
We have a guest!
We have a guest!
Flamingos have to feed about 6 hou…
Flamingos have to feed about 6 ho…
They sift through muck to find the…
They sift through muck to find th…
Flamingos at Cormorant Lagoon.
Flamingos at Cormorant Lagoon.
Two baby flamingos in the backgrou…
Two baby flamingos in the backgro…
Flamingos at Cormorant Lagoon.
Flamingos at Cormorant Lagoon.
Floreana is a volcanic island. Obv…
Floreana is a volcanic island. Ob…
The mockingbirds are extinct here,…
The mockingbirds are extinct here…
They seem to be napping.
They seem to be napping.
Sting ray just offshore.
Sting ray just offshore.
Turtle tracks on the beach.
Turtle tracks on the beach.
Poor little penguin.
Poor little penguin.
Sally Lightfoot.
Sally Lightfoot.
Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Sally Lightfoot.
Sally Lightfoot.
Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Sally Lightfoot crabs.
Yellow warbler.
Yellow warbler.
Bracing for the cold.
Bracing for the cold.
There were huge schools of fish, e…
There were huge schools of fish, …
The life of a cactus.
The life of a cactus.
Fish, fish, fish.
Fish, fish, fish.
Huge school of huge fish. Wish my …
Huge school of huge fish. Wish my…
Steve gets carried away... by the …
Steve gets carried away... by the…
Bi-color parrotfish.
Bi-color parrotfish.
Another big one.
Another big one.
The biggest parrotfish I have ever…
The biggest parrotfish I have eve…
I saw a sting ray just as I was cl…
I saw a sting ray just as I was c…
Descending into the hole. Dont go…
Descending into the hole. Don't g…
Our group goes down the lava tunne…
Our group goes down the lava tunn…
Well, here we are. Now what?
Well, here we are. Now what?
Matt and some lava.
Matt and some lava.
Back up.
Back up.
The post office.
The "post office."
Our boat.
Our boat.
Land of the lost?
Land of the lost?
Matt and John... mimicing the alba…
Matt and John... mimicing the alb…
Waiting for our ride.
Waiting for our ride.
The days itinerary... those crazy …
The days itinerary... those crazy…
Steve at the beach.
Steve at the beach.
Our group.
Our group.
Lava rock...more comfortable than …
Lava rock...more comfortable than…
Galapagos Islands
photo by: Melboorn