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Espanola Island, Galapagos

BlowholeFred 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 pant legs. Sea Lion watches us come ashore




Mother and Seal Lion PupWe were greeted on the beach with lots of sea lions, including more pups suckling their mothers. Marine IguanaMarine 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 Marine Iguana).

Nazca Booby on Nest

Further up the rocky trail, there were Nazca (formerly called Masked) Boobies on their nests, some on top of eggs.





Waved AlbatrossThe 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. Baby Albatross Chick





Female Lava LizardWe 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 of Lizards.)






Courting Blue Footed BoobiesBut 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 Photo Gallery.)

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.Carsons Kayaking

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.



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