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North Seymour and Rabida

Jan 08, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Last night we sailed the short distance between the northern shores of Santa Cruz Island and the channel that separates Baltra from North Seymour.

As first light broke National Geographic Endeavor II gently rode its anchor in very calm waters. A very light breeze blew from the South-East under light cloud cover and the air temperature seemed comfortably warm with high relative humidity.

North Seymour which is one of the busiest seabird colonies in the Galapagos Archipelago was our first stop of the day and after breakfast we set out on board our landing craft to the landing site for a hike. As the morning sun grew hotter the local Land Iguanas became more active giving us many opportunities to observe them from close up. The deciduous Palo Santo forest and the saltbush by the shore have been taken over by great and magnificent frigatebirds which build their nests on them. Despite the obvious change of the weather that announces the beginning of the rainy season on the islands, there were still young seabirds being successfully reared.

As noon drew closer we made our way back to the landing site where Galapagos Sea Lions and roosting swallow tailed gulls observed us boarding our Zodiacs in our way back to the ship.

Next after having received a briefing on water activities and getting our gear ready for snorkeling we had lunch as our ship sailed West towards Rabida Island, our destination for the afternoon.

After having dropped anchor close to the red sand beach on Rabida we set off for snorkeling from our Zodiacs and from the beach. With relatively good visibility it was easy to recognize why there was so much activity. Dense schools of small sardines and other sardine-like fish searched for the protection from larger predators on the shallows only to fall prey to smaller coastal predators like groupers, snappers and large wrasses.

To finish off our afternoon on a high note we set out on a walk on shore to explore the reddish volcanic landscape as it contrasts the intense green of the salt tolerating plant life at the shore and the dry grey vegetation of the deciduous forest inland.

As we made our way back to the beach we all had to take one last picture of the incredibly photogenic sea lion pups as they gently rolled up and down in the tide at the beach side.

As we rode our Zodiacs back home in the twilight a group of bottlenose dolphins came to grace us with one last rush of excitement for the day as if we hadn’t had enough already.

What a great way of finishing a day in this land of wonder!

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About the Author

  • Benjamin Ayala Naturalist

    Ben is a German-Ecuadorian naturalist guide who grew up on San Cristobal, the eastern-most island of the Galápagos Archipelago, home to the political capital of the province.