Day 7: Cormorant Point and Post Office Bay at Floreana

Isla Santa Maria, Provinca de Galapagos Travel Blog

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Flamingo mating dance

We're back on schedule now after a couple days of altered itinerary due to engine trouble.

Today we headed to Cormorant Point on Floreana island.  Unfortunately, there aren't actually cormorants at Cormorant Point.  I think the PR people made up a lot of the names at the Galapagos.  Cormorant Point has a green sand beach due to the presence of the mineral olivine.

Instead we saw flamingos in a salt water lagoon.  I was very excited.  Flamingos were one of the animals I was most interested in seeing at the Galapagos.  Mostly because they're rather ridiculous looking.

We even got to see a group of the juvenille flamingos doing their mating dance.  The guide said they were just practicing but it was still cool to see.

Flamingo mating dance
  First, the flamingos form up into two rough lines.  Then they all start making flamingo sounds while, as a group, turning their heads left and right.  Then they stick their necks way out in front of themselves and sorta flutter their wings out wide.  Then they just go back to standing like normal flamingos.  After a few minutes they repeat the whole thing.  The whole thing looks rather silly but I loved watching it.

After the flamingos we walked to another beach.  There we saw sea turtles mating in the shallow water near the beach.  We also saw the tracks in the sand from the female sea turtles that had come on shore last night to lay their eggs.

Next we headed back to the ship to for snorkeling at Devil's Crown.

Sea turtles mating
  I snorkeled, Rachel sat in the zodiac and enjoyed the view.  Devil's Crown is the remnants of a volcanic crater that never really got high enough to form an island.  The only thing that really remains is a bunch of pointy rocks sticking up out of the water in a rough circle.  We started outside the crown and eventually ended up swimming into the shallow water inside the crown.  Along the way I saw a bunch of fish but nothing new.

After lunch we headed to Post Office Bay.  In the days when whaling was still allowed, whalers would visit the island and drop off their mail in a barrel.  Before heading home, the whalers would stop by and pick up letters for people who lived close to them at home.  Once home, they would deliver the letters.

Floreana "Post Office"
  With whaling ships from around the world constantly coming and going, letters eventually found their way to the recipient.  The tour of duty for a whaler typically lasted several years so this was the best way to send letters home.  The Post Office barrel has been replaced many times since the tradition began but to this day, people still drop off letters for family and pick up letters for people who live near by them.  People also drop off all manner of wooden signs and tokens.  This gives the Post Office barrel the appearance of a junk pile.

After the Post Office barrel, we walked over and into a nearby lava tube.  Lava tubes are long, underground tunnels formed in the rock by flowing lava.  There are lava tubes all over the Galapagos Islands.

Fantastic starfish seen at Devil's Crown
  Our was entered via a stair case.  Unlike the lava tube I visited in Northern California, the inside of this one was very rough.  We walked a couple hundred of feet into the lava tube before we stopped at a pool of salt water.  The sea water has infiltrated this lava tube.  We also had everyone in the group turn off their flashlights so we could see just how pitch black a cave can be.

After dinner, a representative of the boat company met with us regarding the engine trouble we experienced.  Then, all of the crew members disappeared.  We think they went to shore (we were anchored outside Puerta Ayora) to visit their families.  We joked about dawning eye patches and wooden legs and capturing the ship for pirate's booty.  That, or we could just start helping ourselves to the bar :-)

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Flamingo mating dance
Flamingo mating dance
Flamingo mating dance
Flamingo mating dance
Sea turtles mating
Sea turtles mating
Floreana Post Office
Floreana "Post Office"
Fantastic starfish seen at Devils…
Fantastic starfish seen at Devil'…
A fish.
A fish.
A Bump-headed Parrot fish
A Bump-headed Parrot fish
Isla Santa Maria, Provinca de Galapagos
photo by: Paulovic