From the National Geographic Islander in Galapagos
Jan 3, 2013 - National Geographic Islander
Santiago is the third biggest island in the Galapagos. It is also our adopted island in a way; a few years ago the feral goats were seen everywhere, they were introduced species by settlers a long time ago and they became a serious problem for these fragile ecosystems. Now thanks to the efforts of several institutions including ours, the islands are free of this plague and they are recovering very well. This morning we are on Espumilla beach by 6:30 a.m. and we walked on the unique spot covered by palo santo trees and inhabited Galapagos hawks, Finches, Mockingbirds, and some migratory birds along the beach like plovers and whimbrels.
Our walk was delightful, having a nice surprise at the end where we saw five baby green turtles that emerged from their nests and moved into the water to avoid the predation of sea birds like frigates. All our travelers were very happy to see this unique moment; it is known that female turtles may lay up to 80 eggs on the sand dunes, and only 5% will survive. We came back onboard to have breakfast and then we motored not far, to arrive a few minutes later to Buccaneer Cove, a place where Charles Darwin camped for 9 days during his visit to Galapagos in 1835. Here we enjoyed many activities: kayaking, zodiac rides or snorkeling. The visibility of the water was great; we saw many fish, sea lions, eagle rays, star fishes, and marine turtles. Along the shore the kayakers and Zodiac riders enjoyed the magnificent volcanic formations and sea birds such as nazca boobies and pelicans. At 12:30 p.m. lunch was ready; we deserved it after burning all our calories doing what we love to do – exploring this magical archipelago.
In the afternoon we went to Puerto Egas. We had a wet landing on a nice black beach, made of small particles of black basaltic lava. Some of our travelers were relaxing on the sand, snorkeling and swimming in the crystalline waters. Others went to walk along the coast line, at the end of the trail is a very famous place known as grottos, where a colony of fur sea lions are always found. Today the ocean is agitated and bathes the black rock with white foam. Many crabs and sea lions are resting on the rocks because of this uncommon sea condition. Suddenly on the horizon, a feeding frenzy attracts many sea birds, it is spectacular to see many of them diving to catch the fish that jump out of the water.
The afternoon ends, we head back onboard. At the moment I am finishing this report our guests are having fun on the sun deck. Our staff has prepared for them a special meal; maybe after it we can have a clear sky for stargazing. We are happy to have another beautiful day full of surprises, emotions, explorations and adventure in the Galapagos Islands.