Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Iguanas, Flamingos and Turtles

Yesterday afternoon we went to España Island. My father didn´t want to do the long walk so we took the Zodiak for a ride along the coast. I sat way in the back so he wouldn´t need to be next to the diesel exhaust, so I couldn´t hear what the guide was saying. We saw swimming marine iguanas from a distance and some turtles, but far away. I was rather disappointed.

On shore, though, we got upclose and personal with the pink and green marine iguanas called "Christmas Iguanas." There was a pretty American Oystercatcher bird on the beach, and I had a photo taken of me with the iguanas (but they are hard to see).

This island had a lot of nesting Nazca Boobies. We saw one mother boobie fly in (you can tell because they honk) and take over the job of caring for a new-born chick from the father (you can tell because they whistle). The chick was only a few days old and had no feathers or down, but was naked. A little further up the path we saw a chick that was a few weeks older, so was now covered in white down.

At the end of the short trail we came to a beach where bachelor sea lions live. From a distance we could see the people on the longer hike where they were looking at the blow hole. They also saw an albatross, I was told later. On the way back, we saw some of the famous Galapagos finches that Darwin used as the basis of his theory of evolution, and I was buzzed by a Galapagos mockingbird, that flew within a foot of my face.

Dinner was very nice and we had a long conversation at dinner with two couples about the problems of health care. I had the schnitzel (ok, chicken milanese). Tonight will be salmon.

This morning we went to Floreana Island. This was our first wet landing, so we swung our feet over the side of the Zodiak and then walked through three inches of water to the beach. From there we walked 5 minutes to a brackish lagoon where we saw dozens of flamingoes. Along the way, we could hear and see yellow warblers and finches. Far more impressive was when we reached the sea turtle nesting sites.

This is where the female sea turtles come in and lay their eggs (100 to a clutch) in the sand dunes above the high tide line. In the morning, they return to the sea. As we came to the beach, we could see the female turtles slowly making their way to the water. It takes a lot of energy for them to come into land and then lay their eggs, so they're real tired and move slowly. We saw some resting, some in the water, and even two sea turtles mating in the surf.

From there we walked back to our landing site. Those doing the advanced snorkle left and the rest of stayed for the beginning snorkling. My father put everything on, but his snorkle filled with water whenever he put his head down. I tried to get him to practice, but he didn´t want to. Instead, he swam for a bit. I found a woman to be my snorkling buddy and we floated along the rocks, seeing green sea urchins, pencil urchins (their spines looked more like cigarettes to me), various fish, and a sea lion who buzzed me twice.

After about an hour we were ready to go back. A little more difficult getting back in the boat, particularly as I was the one carrying the bag with all the wet suits, fins, and snorkles. Back on board we showered and had a nice italian buffet on deck. My father particularly liked the grilled peppers and the cannaloni.

We have another hour and a half before the next lecture (so dad is napping)then we go to see the "baroness lookout" (where I´m sure we´ll hear the whole sordid story). Another wet landing but no snorkling. Tomorrow we might be able to see penguins.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Sounds like a great trip! Have fun!