Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador: Puerto Egas & Espumilla Beach, Santiago Island; Buccaneer’s Cove (near Santiago Island)

I was up early today (5:30am and sat on the back deck of the yacht reading. I watched a nice (but not spectacular sunrise). It was nice and quiet though for a while because breakfast was not till 7am and the first activity at 8am.

It was rough sailing last night but fortunately, the half of the scolopamine patch that Sue gave to Robin has been working quite well. This is a prescription med and normally you would not be using someone else's prescription but when you're desperate, you will do whatever it takes; hence the patch cut in half so that several people were walking around with half a patch behind their ears.

We had a wet landing at the black beach (the sand was quite black - mostly volcanic ash). We saw fur seals which are not really seals at all but sea lions but they are different because they are thought to come from the Northern hemisphere originally. There were a number of babies and young seals but this is the season that they (babies) are plentiful. They really had the cutest little faces and without fear I might add. The mothers have one baby a year but the young ones can nurse for up to three years so some mothers can sometimes have as many as three off springs nursing at the same time.

Although we were supposed to be bird watching, there weren't that many birds to see on the island but the landscape was quite nice.

In one area, we walked through a kind of viney, brambled grotto and emerged to a large lava field.

We walked a bit more and came to some lava tunnels. These are natural formations made by cooling lava; there is a hollow that goes in about 100 feet from the shoreline and has a natural bridge over the top where you can see the tide crashing in. It can be wet and slippery during high tide but we were fortunate that the tide was high enough to make a big splash but not so high that we couldn't stand on the bridge. It reminded me of Snaefelsness in Iceland where they have the same kind of lava formations (previous post on Iceland).

Walking back to the beach via a different path, the vegetation was quite different. The bushes here don't have leaves so much as what looks like thorns but they act like leaves during photosynthesis. 

We saw a few birds but some of them are downright ugly - like this one.  It is a yellow-crowned night heron but it was not pretty at all! I am imagining it as a poor relation of some beautiful and majestic bird. I am not sure if I had a cousin so ugly, I'd want to claim any relationship - but that's me.  

We did see a smooth-beaked Ani - black and somewhat non-descript too but there were some nice gulls flying high in the sky. I managed to capture two of them in flight as they are much harder to capture closer. Flying looked good though.

Then it was off to Buccaneer's Cove in the afternoon for the snorkelers who wanted to jump off the panga. I opted out because the current is a bit strong around the rocks and like I said before, I am not that confident in such waters - even with a life jacket. I'm always afraid that with so many people snorkeling, I'd drift off with the current and no one would notice until it was too late. So I stayed on the yacht and read a book I found in the little library (of about 10-12 books) on board.

All in all, it was an okay day but a bit tame compared to the previous days. For the newcomers on board, it may have seemed a bit anti-climactic. I could see them thinking: So this is Galapagos? |There is nothing that great about it. We certainly saw a lot in the previous days so I think we were comparing.
Maybe tomorrow will be more exciting. In the morning, we are supposed to climb a lot of stairs (365 to be exact) to the top of a hill and in the afternoon, we are to see some lava formations. We've been seeing a lot of lava formations on all the islands so I am not sure why these would be special. I'll have to wait and see. 

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