Friday, October 27, 2017

North Seymour and Cerro Dragon, Galápagos Islands, October 27, 2017

The Galápagos include 13 major islands ranging in area from 14 km sq to 4588 km sq.  There are 6 smaller islands only 1-5 sq km and many unnamed islets.  Only 5 islands are inhabited.  The archipelago was discovered accidently in 1535 by the first Bishop of Panama - Tomas de Berlanga.  He got lost sailing from Panama to Peru.  The first time the islands appeared on a map was in 1570.  Scientific exploration began in the late 18th century.  Ecuador claimed the Galapagos in 1832 and for a century, the islands were sparsely inhabited and used as penal colonies.  Charles Darwin arrived in 1835 and stayed for 5 weeks, making notes and collecting specimens to support his theory of evolution.  He mostly observed and ate the sea tortoises.

After a great breakfast, we had a dry landing on North Seymour Island-

which is 1.9 sq km.  Here we saw many frigates.  The males puff out their red throat bag when they're mating.  They also make a clucking noise as the females fly nearby.  The females lay one egg at a time and it takes a month to incubate, then the lone babies are raised until they're about 4-5 months old, then mating happens again-


We also saw swallow tailed gulls-

Sea lions-

Land iguanas-

Blue footed boobies-

and juveniles-

We came back to the boat for a few minutes and then went snorkelling.  I am very glad I've rented a wet suit and fins for the week.  Masks and snorkels are free.  The current was strong and the water about 18 degrees.  I saw quite a bit:

Parrotfish, yellow tailed grunts, and trumpet fish-

White banded king angel fish, damselfish and corral- 

White tip sharks which were on the bottom so very far away, puffer fish and butterfly fish-

Octopus before and after Edgar our guide dove down to scare it-

We came back to the boat for lunch and a couple hours rest, then we headed off to Cerro Dragon on Isla Santa Cruz.  The beach rock is black lava-

It's summer so the trees are dormant and everything is super dry.

Our boat is on the left-

Tree bark-

A cactus-

More cacti-

We came across a land iguana on the middle of the path.  Edgar pulled a fruit from a nearby cactus and threw it on the road.  The second that iguana heard the plop, he was on the fruit.  He dragged it around in the dirt, trying to knock the spines off and then in one mouthful, devoured it-

Look at his teeth!

We also saw marine iguanas on the shore-

We snorkelled in a small bay, looking for turtles.  I was following a huge one, snapping pictures like crazy, until I looked at my camera screen and saw.... Nothing.  I pulled my camera out of the water and noticed the battery/picture card door was open and my camera was full of water.  Bone Head!  So now my camera is in a bag of rice.  Hmmmm.  WTF.  How could I do that?

Tomorrow we're off to the town of Puerto Ayora which has a population of 12,000 to visit the Darwin Museum.  We've also got a couple hikes planned and 6 new passengers will join us.  I hope I don't have to share my room!

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