Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Endeavour in the Galapagos - Xavier Romero, naturalist
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From the National Geographic Endeavour in the Galapagos

Dec 5, 2012 - National Geographic Endeavour

Wimbrel on Espumilla Beach
Galápagos hawks next to explorer

Espumilla Beach and Puerto Egas, Santiago Island

It began as a misty day with a light wind, as we approached the coastline for our wet landing we started to see big waves breaking on the rocky coastline next to Espumilla Beach; white water and the continuous swells, showed some of the force that the ocean can generate. We all double checked that all our bags were closed and that our cameras were safe from the seawater. The instructions were simple: as soon as we hit the beach, slide to the stern and on each side disembark, but do not take too long, and once on land get to the dry part of the beach as soon as you can. Disembarking was flawless, it looked like a well-rehearsed action, but getting back on the boat on the way out proved to be a little different.

Once on the beach one group of explorers did the longer walk, and another continued the photography exploration lead by our photo instructor Antonio Adrian. First, a turtle right next to us worked its way onto the beach, then as we walked on the beach we saw several shorebirds, among them was a wimbrel looking for food on the sandy beach. But the biggest surprise was the Galápagos hawks, at least seven of them, only a few feet from us, perching on a mangrove tree branch. A wildlife photographer’s dream, we all kept shooting more and more pictures, as if we were in some kind of hypnotic state. After this the real challenge began, getting back on the Zodiacs to the National Geographic Endeavour. Getting on the Zodiacs was flawless, but King Neptune made us pay a little price. As we began to get out of the beach an unexpected wave came in and got a few of us wet, some fully wet, some a little wet, but all the precautions about protecting our cameras worked. We just laughed on the way back as the cool breeze reminded us of “the wave” that got us wet, while the memories of the hawks kept lingering in our minds.

After breakfast we had a Zodiac ride along the coastline that began with a little mist and wind, but when we returned the wind decreased and the mist was gone, during the coastline exploration we saw several blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies, also a small pod of dolphins.

The afternoon activity began with snorkeling off the beach in Puerto Egas, but some decided to just stay on the beach and take pictures of the incredible wildlife around this place. The good news was that the waves were not as strong as in the morning and no one got wet this time. During our walk we saw the endemic Galápagos fur seal, several pelicans along the shore and a flock of wimbrels along the tide pool. All these animals kept us distracted from looking were we walked, so we needed to remind ourselves of where we stepped to avoid standing on a marine iguana, as these creatures just blend with the background so well, proving to us that they own this island.

As we returned the sun was setting behind a volcano on the nearby Isabela Island, a day to be remembered for a long time, filled with adventure and surprises.

About the Author

Xavier Romero·Naturalist

Xavier began his “love affair with the ocean”, as he describes it, when he was five years old, while spending summers with his family near the ocean. He learned how to SCUBA dive at 17 and trained as a commercial diver at 20, working for a while as an off-shore oilfield diver. In the early 1980s he began to study biology and finished his degree in biology from the Universidad de Guayaquil in 1990, the same year he decided to take the Galápagos Naturalist Guide course. After that, Xavier worked as a naturalist and divemaster in the Galápagos Archipelago for several years. An avid SCUBA diver, he trained to become a certified SCUBA diving instructor in 1993, to help impart his passion for the seas.