Santa Cruz and Daphne Islands
After a few hours of navigation, we dropped anchor in the early morning at Cerro Dragón, or Dragon Hill, located in the northern coast of the Santa Cruz Island. It is hard to believe that this is the same island that we explored a previously, as the landscape at this site is brown and arid instead of lush and green! The trail led us inland into the territories of one of the last remnants of a once large population of Galápagos land iguanas. This endemic species has been severely decimated in the last hundred years due to predation by introduced carnivorous land mammals like rats, cats and dogs. We are well into the dry season now, and therefore the local vegetation has decayed, creating a yellowish mantle on the area. And since the land iguanas are yellow as well, this became a bit of a difficult search, but we were ultimately successful. As the ground and air warmed up, the iguanas started emerging from their boroughs, to soak up in the sun and find their food. In addition to the land iguanas, we also enjoyed observing the other local inhabitants, like the Galápagos mockingbirds, marine iguanas, yellow warblers, herons and a solitary greater flamingo feeding in a brackish lagoon. We returned back on board and our ship changed position to be nearer to Guy Fawkes, a group of small islets not far from Dragon Hill. Here, some of our guests chose to take a Zodiac ride along its shoreline, where many seabird species next, like blue-footed and Nazca boobies, brown noddies, swallow-tailed gulls and Galápagos shearwaters. A couple of American oystercatchers were busy piercing the barnacles, while a few sea lions enjoyed a very, very long siesta on the rocks. Guy Fawkes is also a spectacular snorkeling site, with its deep wall covered in colorful marine invertebrates. Because of the surrounding deep waters, it is a highly productive area with many fish species, some of them rather large, like the giant manta ray that accompanied our snorkelers for a while.
In the afternoon we anchored by Eden Islet; this is a tall tuff cone, half of which has been eroded away. Read More>
Sep 2, 2015
National Geographic Endeavour