Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 18 - Espanola Island

We started today early - 6:30 breakfast! We had an early morning hike on Espanola (Hood) Island - very desert- like place. We got off the zodiak and were greeted by several marine iguanas and seal lions at Suarez Point. We walked past the "kindergarten" area for the sea lions, where the moms were feeding their babies. They were so friendly that they walked right up to us and sniffed our shoes.

We walked past the rocks on the beach on a very rocky trail that leads through the middle of the island to the other side. We saw a terrestrial snake, and different Galapagos birds (finches, mockingbirds, pelicans, gulls and hawks) on the hike.

The closer we got to the other side of the island, we began to see several albatrosses nesting. No chicks yet, but they should hatch in the next month. We sat on a cliff overlooking the east side of the island, with many birds flying over head, waiting for an albatross to "take off." Since their wing span is so large (over 3 feet for each wing), they cannot just take off from a standing position. They need to run off the cliff and start to fly as they fall off. Once airborne, they fly quite gracefully!

We walked on further around the cliff to an area called the "blowhole." It is not like a geiser, but a fisher in the rock that traps water and the force of the waves pushes it out with a burst.

As we walked on the rocky edge of the island, we saw the nesting place of the Nazca ("masked") boobies. These are not like the blue-footed boobies, but white with black "masks" around their eyes. They nest on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, where the blue footed boobies nest further inland.

After the hike, we returned to the boat for a short break and lunch. After lunch, we were shuttled to Gardner Bay, a small inlet with aqua colored water and beautiful sandy beaches. Some students snorkeled around the rocks, others just played in the ocean with the sea lions. Again, they got so close they were snooping in our bags!

Today, we were back on board the boat by 2:00 for our ride to San Cristobal. During the day, we hung out on the deck, read, napped, packed up clothes or just relaxed. We anchored there overnight, so no heavy waves! We ate our last meal on the ship, and had the farewell cocktail. Normally the entire crew would join us for the cocktail time, but the current was quite strong so they needed to steer the ship. Today (Monday, May 26th) is my daughter's 8th birthday:

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