Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez, Española Island
As the sun rose over the horizon of Punta Suarez, some of us were already on a Zodiac going to the area where we will kayak along this impressive environment. It was a calm morning with few big waves; the first blue footed booby perched along the rocks by the ocean. As the group kayaked into a calm and secluded bay, we could see the tracks of several marine turtles that probably last night rested on this place and maybe laid their eggs on this solitary beach.
Upon returning back to the National Geographic Islander, we had breakfast and after some rest it was time to begin more explorations around this island, snorkeling first and then visiting Gardner Beach where several Galapagos sea lions waited for us, but there was an unexpected surprise. We were almost hypnotized by the young sea lions that rolled on the beach, especially by one that decided to befriend us and moved right between the legs of one of us! At the distance a Galapagos hawk was perching on a rock and suddenly it decided to take off and land on the beach. We all followed it and it was a great encounter with an adult hawk. It was very close to several of us, and one comment was “it is the best day!” And there are more great days waiting to happen next week.
During the afternoon we visited Punta Suarez, this time the reception committee were several very colorful marine iguanas, with red and green colors, contrasting against the black rocks that they laid on, motionless for a while and suddenly sneezing salt off their nostrils. As we walked along past these iguanas, our main warning was to keep our eyes open as they were often on our trail, taking some time to rest – and probably showing us who really owns this island!
Several sea lion pups were nursing on the small sandy beach, iguanas were facing the sun on top of each other, and nearby a small sea lion nursery where several pups played with each other. Every now and then they tried to get an iguana in their game, although their intentions were apparently not so welcome by the marine iguanas.
Along the trail we found several blue footed boobies, and a juvenile Nazca booby that was just starting to become covered by the real feathers that it will need to fly and feed. However there was a small area on the forehead that resembled a punk-rocker hairstyle. It looked at us and made some sounds as we passed by.
Finally as we returned back to the beach and the dock to be picked-up. On the horizon the sun was setting and several seabirds passed in front, a great way to finish this fantastic day.