Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Day 3 Galapogas

Today started early with an 8AM morning excursion. We anchored off Floreana Island and did our first wet landing - meaning that the zodiac simply pulled as close to the beach as possible, everyone climbed out into the shallow water and walked the rest of the way to the dry sand. Floreana is the sixth largest of the islands and is one of the four islands visited by Darwin.

Along the beach we again observed quite a few sea lions - all just ignored us and it was fun to watch a few play in the shallow waters where they would jump, spin and splash.

The naturalist explained more history of the islands and told a little about when he was growing up in the Galapogas in Santa Cruz - a town we will visit later in the trip.

Then we began the hike to a brackish pond where we saw flamingos and white cheeked pintail ducks. While hiking further, we also saw flycatchers, a lava heron and Darwin finches.

The hike was a bit rough. Though mostly sand and small pebbles, it included pretty long stretches of perhaps 30 to 45 degree climbs. We hiked around half a mile to another sandy beach.

At this beach, we saw sea turtles in the water around 15 to 20 feet off shore. We also saw tracks from sea turtles pulling themselves onto shore. This is a sea turtle nesting area but we were not able to observe where eggs had need laid. On black lava rock on the beach, we saw young black and mature red crabs. We also saw a dead spotted sting ray which had not been there long - so we had a chance to see the detail of the body.

The return hike was, again, a challenge for some of us. In total, it was about a one mile hike with considerable inclines. When we returned to the original beach, some took time to swim or snorkel. We climbed into a zodiac and headed back to the ship for naps and lunch.

On our afternoon excursion, we took a zodiac ride back to another site on Floreana and saw quite a few critters - sea lions, sea turtles, and various birds. After maybe 25 or 30 minutes, we did a wet landing on a beach at Baroness Lookout and climbed up a relatively steep incline to a overlook deck to see the panoramic view. Our guide also told us a local story about a supposed baroness and her lovers.

Jill stayed with Brenda and one of the guides in the zodiac - probably good since I'm not sure either could have made the climb. For me, it wasn't too bad since it was more climbing than aerobic. They saw quite a few sea turtles while waiting for us.

After the excursion, we had another typical evening - dinner and a talk about next day excursions. Finally, about 10:45, the ship anchored and put out bright lights to attract wildlife. In the dark by the bright lights, we saw pelicans, sharks, sea lions, jelly fish and loads of small fish.

That's all for today.

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