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)!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
These islands continue to produce both the weird and the wonderful!
* Our cruise on the ‘Floreana’ cost us $1,225.00 US per person for 5 nights/6 days.