Galapagos: Espanola… or was it Hood?

Days: 243

Total distance travelled: 46,857.6 kilometres (29,104.1 miles)

A new day, a new island.

Our third day of the tour (second full day) found us moored off the coast of Isla Espanola (Espanola Island)… or should that be Hood Island?

In truth, either would be correct, as in fact almost all of the islands that comprise the Galapagos have at least two names. Some even have three (the already visited Floreana Island is also known as Charles or Santa Maria)!

Confused yet?

Never mind, as this day started in a similar manner to the day previous.

An early breakfast, then we were all piled into the Floreana’s two Zodiacs for another morning shore excursion.

Our welcome was already becoming rather familiar and predictable by now (even a mere two days in), Galapagos Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas and various marine birds… oh and those again, almost forgotten Sally Lightfoot crabs!

A morning welcome from an Espanola resident

A morning welcome from an Espanola resident

A warm welcome on land as well

A warm welcome on land as well

So, what’s so special about this particular island?

Well, in addition to being a great nesting habitat for the many marine birds that inhabit the island & something of a nursery for young sea lions, it’s Marine Iguanas are a little different to those we’ve already seen.

You see, these particular specimens are green!

A Green Marine Iguana in a reflective pose...

A Green Marine Iguana in a reflective pose…

Also imbued with reddish hues as well, I think to do with gender, although I may have stopped listening by then, distracting by more awesome wildlife, these reptiles were again, something incredible to take in.

Before long however we’d moved on again, and those ever present sea lions had again captured the attention of our posse.

In this instance we found a large collection of pups frolicking in a shallow pool, a nursery of sorts, where they safely played under the watchful gaze of one rather large bull.

I guess a dads work is never done!

It's a tough life for a Galapagos Sea Lion pup!

It’s a tough life for a Galapagos Sea Lion pup!

Our guide lead us deeper into the island, where the level of heat immediately began to intensify, but it wasn’t long before we were again faced with the sea, the cooler breeze it offered immediately welcomed.

This, more southerly side of the island, whilst still occupied by many iguanas, seemed to be the domain of the sea birds and their rookeries, and it was amongst these that we now began to wander.

As you’d expect, there were Boobies aplenty, but not simply the Blue Footed type (sadly however there weren’t any Red Footed members of the family), with many Nazca Boobies welcoming us to the nesting area.

This area is also home to the Waved Albatross (in fact it is possible Espanola is their only breeding site) and several species of gull, so it is a true feather and screech fest in which to wander.

Feathers & fluff

Feathers & fluff

After watching with interest (us them, they seemed fairly disinterested in us unless we got near some young chick), we rested at an open area along these southern cliffs, ready to watch a show.

This however was not a performance from the animal kingdom, but rather one of those random phenomenon, a blowhole.

It was cool to watch for a while, members of our group posed for photos and the like, before we continued our walk, cutting back across the hot interior of the island with its martian like landscape, and eventually returning to our boats.

Hot in the heart of Espanola

Hot in the heart of Espanola

An afternoon snorkel at another lovely location, this time Punta Suarez revealed more beautifully coloured fish, a White Tipped Reef Shark, the odd ray, and even 1 small, playful sea lion!

It was our next stop for the day that again highlighted the contrasts of this remote island group, as all of a sudden, we found ourselves on a beach that wouldn’t be out of place at a Caribbean island resort.

This was Gardeners Bay, and its sands were almost pure white & its waters the most amazing blue!

It almost seemed surreal, to stroll like tropical beaches, surrounded by a ridiculous amount of relaxed sea lions.

Sea Lions on sand so white it could be snow...

Sea Lions on sand so white it could be snow…

The water visibility was not great, so snorkeling wasn’t really an option (although I did try), so whilst much of the group lingered/lounged near where the Zodiacs had deposited us, Sarah & I decided to wander the shore a little.

A seemingly large organic mass intrigued us, but we didn’t give it too much thought as we made our way to the end of the beach and inspected a few birds and iguanas that lounged or fed amongst the rocks.

I mentioned the odd site further down the beach, which prompted Victor our guide to go and have a look for himself.

A peaceful stroll reveals a denizen of the deep!

A peaceful stroll reveals a denizen of the deep!

It turns out what we’d found was in fact a giant squid, recently washed ashore as by all accounts it was not there the week before!

At times, given their abundance we got blase to their presence. Not today however!

At times, given their abundance we got blase to their presence. Not today however!

These islands continue to produce both the weird and the wonderful!

 

Notes:

* Our cruise on the ‘Floreana’ cost us $1,225.00 US per person for 5 nights/6 days.

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15 Responses to Galapagos: Espanola… or was it Hood?

  1. karla says:

    Your posts on Galapagos just makes me want to go there even more. I like your photos, they seem real and you were able to capture the essence of seeing the animals in their natural habitat or something like that. The animals look so happy here, that’s a good thing. Keep it up.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Your pictures are stunning! It`s an expensive tour but I assume it`s worth it.
    How big was that squid?
    Cheers!

    • Chris says:

      Expensive it was, but the experiences are why went there! Hmmm, the squid was around 10 metres in length if my hazy memory can recall correctly!

  3. I love lounging on the Galapagos, just like that sea lion pup! How sweet is it!

  4. natalietanner says:

    What a cool place! Interesting how close you can get to the sea lion pups. I guess they are used to visitors. Certainly no place like it on Earth. Can’t wait to see it. Thanks for the interesting tidbits like the multiple names!
    Natalie, The Educational Tourist

    • Chris says:

      Not so much used to visitors, but rather simply unafraid. Thankfully it’s been a long time since humans have been the predators here (sadly however, we did manage to still wipe out several sub-species of the giant tortoises before the islands were protected)

  5. I too get distracted by the scenery and wildlife while on a guided tour and frequently miss facts. Haha. Maybe I should start recording them!

    Awesome photos. Love the pups!

  6. Visiting the Galapagos islands is right at the top of my ‘life list’. Its an absolute dream I hope to fulfil. Needless to say this post has just made me long to visit even more. Your photo of the Green Marine Iguana is amazing. What a beauty!
    I’m still saving the pennies but pleased to hear its well worth it 🙂

  7. twoscotsabroad says:

    Those seals are just adorable. I had to take a good look at the iguana, it’s pretty trippy! Was just about to ask if you felt it was worth it financially but I think you answered that in your response to James!

  8. Stacey Valle says:

    OMG, I’ve been dying to go to Galapagos since I was a child! Since I first watched Steve Irwin on television, exploring there. I love animals, and all the animals that you’ve mentioned?! I would be in heaven! Blue Footed Boobies, white tip reef sharks, sea lions, and on and on. I’ll be squealing with excitement there! I’m glad you went there and and a good time! Looking at that price though – that made me cringes but I’m sure it would be worth it including a place to stay!

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