took the early (5:15) wake up call to go with the photographers
to Punta Suarez on Espanola Island. Barb slept in till 6 for a leisurely
breakfast before the 8 am excursion to the same area. This southern
most island has extensive nesting sites of seabirds, plus dramatic
cliff scenery and a blowhole. The 2 hour hike started off cool,
but by the end we were rolling up our sleeves and unzipping our
were greeted on the beach with lots of sea lions, including more
pups suckling their mothers. Marine
iguanas were piled on top of each other - this is how they keep
warm during the night. They will move apart once the sun can warm
them up. The marine iguanas here are more colorful than on other
islands, with hues of green and red. (See the Marine
Iguana Photo Gallery for more information and photos of the
Further up the rocky trail, there were Nazca (formerly called Masked)
Boobies on their nests, some on top of eggs.
cliffs make an ideal take-off site for the huge waved albatross,
the largest of the sea birds found in the Galapagos. This majestic
and graceful glider possesses a wingspan of about 7 feet. They can
glide for days on wind currents without flapping their wings. Espanola
Island is the breeding site for the world's population of waved
albatross, about 12,000 pairs per year. They spend 6 months of the
year roaming the eastern Pacific. Pairs mate for life, getting re-acquainted
each year when they return from sea, in an elaborate mating ritual.
They lay a single egg on the volcanic rock and share egg incubation
duties. Their nesting area had many chicks waiting for their parents
to return from the sea with breakfast.
also saw a hawk, lava lizard, swallowtailed gull, and mocking bird.
(See the Bird Photo Gallery for
more information and photos of the birds of the Galapagos and the
Lizard Photo Gallery for photos
the highlight of the morning was a pair of Blue Footed Boobies who
were performing their mating dance, totally oblivious to their audience.
The booby two step consists in dramatic foot raising and sky pointing
with their beaks. (For more photos and information about the Nazca
and Blue Footed Booby, go to the Booby
Back on the ship we were briefed on snorkeling procedures and equipment
and the use of the kayaks. Linblad has a great setup for snorkeling
- they provide all the equipment including shorty wet suits. Everyone
gets a canvas and mesh bag to hold their gear with their roomnumber
tag on it. There's a dunk tank for rinsing equipment and racks for
hanging wetsuits and snorkeling bags. Nicer than some dive boats
we've been on.
After a wonderful buffet lunch, we went snorkeling from a sandy
beach in Gardner Bay, then took a dingy to a rock outcropping where
we saw white tip reef sharks and schools of yellow surgeonfish.
Then it was off to do some kayaking along the cliffs and a paddle
back to the Polaris.
Each night, the ship featured a special drink during happy hour
in honor of the day's sightings. Tonight was a Blue Footed Booby
- kind of like a Margarita with Blue Curacao. Delicious.
Back in bed by 9 after a very full day of activities.