Aug 30, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II
The northern “hemisphere” of Santa Cruz Island is arid and dry, as it lies in the rain shadow, and it certainly looks very different to the lush and green southern coast. Cerro Dragón or “Dragon Hill” is the last of the remaining population of land iguanas of Santa Cruz due to predation by introduced species like rats, cats and dogs. We followed a trail inland in order to see them in their natural, preserved habitat, and with the air temperature rising we could spot several of them either sunbathing or looking for cactus pads and fruits. The trail in Cerro Dragón took as through coastal and dry vegetation zones, and with today’s blue skies there was an explosion of colour around us. There was a snorkeling opportunity at Guy Fawkes Rocks, the remains of an old tuff cone where the underwater life thrives thanks to the optimum conditions found there.
In the afternoon we set off for a Zodiac ride along the coast of Eden Islet and a stretch of coast on the Santa Cruz side. With quiet inlets and bays, this place offers the perfect shelter to native creatures like spotted eagle rays, Pacific green sea turtles and even baby sharks. Numbers of seabirds fed along this rich coast, amongst which we spotted blue-footed boobies, great blue herons, brown noddy terns and brown pelicans. Just before sunset we circumnavigated around Daphne Major, a tuff cone in the middle of the ocean that has been the scenario of an ongoing research on the local population of Darwin finches.
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