The Galápagos Islands Day 10

Friday, April 15th, 2022

Most of our group got up for a 6:00 AM dinghy ride to North Seymour Island. It was a dry landing and walk. Before leaving the yacht we saw a Galápagos shark swimming around!

Shark swimming.

North Seymour was a major nesting area for Blue-footed Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebirds. We saw some Blue-footed Boobies dancing in a circle. We did spot a few iguanas, both marine and land.

Palo Santo Trees & Prickly Pear Cacti

We also saw some sea lions still snoozing and relaxing.

There were swallow-tailed gulls also on the island.

As we walked we saw Magnificent Frigatebirds as well as the Blue-footed Boobies.

Blue-footed Booby and Magnificent Frigatebird

The Magnificent Frigatebird males have a red throat pouch that inflates. This is called a gular pouch that the male frigatebirds use to attract females. We saw many males trying to get the females attentions.

There were many juvenile Magnificent Frigatebirds around the area and on the nests.

The males and females frigates take turns on the nest. We observed more males sitting than females.

There were Blue-footed boobies and they had nests too. One way to tell the difference between a male and female is the color of their feet. A female has deeper blue hued feet. The females are also a little larger in size so they can carry more food. The male whistles and the female makes more of a honking/braying sound. We heard both as we walked around. The females have larger pupils and the males have more of pinpoint pupils.

Blue-footed Boobies

The dinghy took us back to the Tip Top V for the last time.

After breakfast we packed up and headed for our dinghy ride to take us to the pier for our bus ride to the airport on Baltra Island. At the airport we checked in and before we went through security we said goodbye to our Naturalist and Galápagos guide Fernando.

Our group!

Taking off from the airport in Baltra Island.

Our flight from Baltra to Quito had a stop in Guayaquil. Some passengers got off and others got on.

Flying over Guayaquil, Ecuador

We got a good view of Quito as we were coming into land.

Quito, Ecuador

Patricia met us at the airport when we arrived. It was good to see a familiar face again. We headed to our hotel, Hosteria Rincon de Puembo and later had our farewell dinner with our group. We said our goodbyes and we have each other’s emails so we can keep in touch!

Looking out at town from our hotel.

We set our alarms to get up a little after 2:00 AM because our flight was at 6:40 AM. Thank goodness Susie still had her phone on and saw that our flight was canceled. She let the rest of us know. We all were scurrying to rebook and figure out our flights. It became a restless night once we figured out our route home.

The Galápagos Islands Day 8

Wednesday, April 13th, 2022

Today was a very early start and it was a beautiful sunrise.

Every morning the ship chef had fresh fruit and a centerpiece of fruit carved into an animal shape! This morning was our favorite!

Our first activity was to navigate around Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) which was located near Santiago Island. It was an island with a small volcanic cone that resembles a Chinese hat. We had a wet landing and a hike around the island.

Chinese Hat

Along the beach we immediately saw a sea lion swimming, sally lightfoot crabs scrambling around and a great blue heron!

Sally lightfoot crabs, Great Blue Heron, and a Sea lion playing in the water
Galápagos ’22

A mother sea lion was nursing on the beach near where we came ashore.

Sea lion cub nursing

There were also a lot of sea lions hanging around.

The island trail from the beach headed through a lava field. We saw wildlife and the views were spectacular.

As we hiked on the trail we saw marine iguanas out on the rocks.

Great Blue Heron

Common carpetweed could be found all over the lava field! It is an endemic species of plant to the Galápagos.

After our hike on Chinese Hat we went back to the ship to get ready for our last snorkeling excursion. We can’t believe it is our last time. We’ve had such fantastic experiences so far. Well, let us tell you, our last snorkeling time was one amazing encounter. We had read that the snorkeling by Chinese Hat was excellent because the area is pretty protected and the water is clear and full of marine life! It did not disappoint. We saw Galápagos penguins, stingrays, white tip sharks, sea turtles, sea lions, sea stars, and many varieties of fish! Our entire group was pumped up when we came to the yacht.

Part of the area where we snorkeled.
Our snorkeling Selfie

Some pictures from our last time snorkeling!

Swimming Galápagos Penguin

We saw a lot of sea cucumbers!

Sea Cucumber

And so many fish!

This afternoon Fernando gave a lecture called “What Are We Stepping On?” He discussed the three main types of rocks that we have seen. The first: magmatic or igneous rocks which were formed from the cooling and solidifying of magma or lava. The two main types of igneous rocks were intrusive(plutonic rocks) and extrusive(volcanic rocks). Extrusive rocks were formed on the surface from lava and intrusive rocks were formed from magma that cooled and solidified within the crust, they never reached the surface. The second type of rock was the sedimentary rocks that were formed on or near the Earth’s surface from preexisting rocks and/or pieces of once living organisms. And the third type of rock he discussed was the metamorphic rocks. These rocks began as one type of rock and then were exposed to high heat, high pressure, hot mineral-rich fluids or any combination of these and gradually changed into a new type. These conditions were found deep in the Earth or where tectonic plates collide.

Some of the passengers were interested in touring the yacht’s kitchen! Fernando arranged it. We couldn’t all fit in because it was small and no air conditioning so it was very warm! It was amazing all the delicious food he produced within such tight, hot quarters!

Our next stop was Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island. It was a rocky terrain. We had a dry landing for a hike which lead us to a lookout point. The sky looked threatening but we didn’t have any precipitation.

Dragon Hill
Fernando

The island was very green and as we came upon the lagoon we were hoping to see flamingos. We could see their tracks in the water but they weren’t around but we were hoping to see them when we walked back to the beach.

Prickly Pear Cacti around the lagoon and if you look closely a dragonfly

We saw a lot of birds and iguanas!

On our way back from our hike the flamingos had arrived to eat! We saw two that were feeding in the lagoon as well as some marine iguanas floating around! They were American Flamingos.

As we were getting on the dinghy to head back to the yacht, there was a blue-footed booby.

Blue-footed Booby

Once we were back on board, we had our briefing with Fernando to go over tomorrow’s schedule. It’s hard to believe we only have two more days! This has been such an experience!

The Galápagos Islands Day 5

Sunday, April 10th, 2022

This morning began with a dry landing and hiking on Espinoza Point or Punta Espinoza. As we got off the dinghy we saw a striated heron in the mangroves. It was also known as a mangrove heron.

Striated Heron

Of course there were sally lightfoot crabs scrambling around the area.

Espinoza Point is located on the northeastern shore of Fernandina Island. There was a colony of marine iguanas, about 1,000 to 2,000 resting on the lava. We were there early enough that the iguanas were still warming up and didn’t need to cool off in the ocean. On our hike we saw nests for the iguanas so you had to be careful and make sure you stayed on the marked trail.

Look closely at the two pictures below and see if you can find the marine iguanas within the lava. They were camouflaged very well.

Flightless Cormorants were spotted and we even saw a pair talking to each other. This bird is endemic to the Galápagos Islands. It was the only known cormorant that can’t fly. Its wings had become shorter and not long enough to fly. The Flightless Cormorants had adapted so well to swimming in the water and diving they no longer needed to fly!

A brown pelican was relaxing on the lava.

Brown Pelican relaxing

Lava cacti were all around the Point.

A Bryde’s whale skeleton was also spotted as we walked around trying not to stop on the marine iguanas.

Bryde’s whale skeleton

Sea lions were also lazing in the sun.

Sleeping Sea Lion

When we rounded the cove the waves on the other side were pretty high!

Big Surf

After our hike we got back on the dinghy and went to the ship to get on our snorkeling gear. When we were ready we rode the dinghy to our snorkeling area and jumped off the side. We saw sea lions playing in the water and swimming around us.

After our morning snorkel we went back to the ship. Once on board we saw a large turtle swimming by our yacht. It was most likely a green sea turtle and their status was endangered.

After lunch we cruised to our next stop, Elizabeth Bay, Isabela Island. As we sailed we enjoyed the views from our cabin balcony.

This afternoon Fernando, our guide, gave a lecture on Marine Iguanas. We learned that the marine iguanas have a lower metabolic need and eat about 30 grams of food per month where a bird needs 30 grams per day. Another interesting fact was that they can’t walk and breathe at the same time! The Galápagos marine iguanas are the only iguanas that feed and swim in the ocean. Because they don’t have gills that have to hold their breath when swimming underwater.

Lecture on Marine Iguanas

When we anchored at Elizabeth Bay we got on the dinghy’s to explore the mangroves and the small islands of the area.

Boarding a dinghy.

We saw many turtles swimming as we rode on the dinghy around the area.

A sea lion was laying on one of the mangrove branches!

Look closely to see the sea lion on the log!

A pelican relaxed in the mangroves.

A pelican in the mangroves

A lava heron was spotted on her nest protecting her eggs.