Sep 25, 2017 - National Geographic Islander
Today we awoke off the north central coast of Espanola. A misty morning rain and the crystalline aquamarine waters of Gardner Bay surrounded us. After breakfast, we had a snorkeling briefing and out-fitting session. Once equipped and properly instructed, we headed out to explore the underwater realms of Gardner Islet by snorkeling. We found an amazing abundance of sea life including several juvenile Galapagos sea lions, large schools of yellow-tailed Surgeon fish, grunts, diamond rays, and colorful walls teaming with diverse invertebrates.
Some guests opted to go to the beautiful white sand beach found in the bay. Curious Espanola mockingbirds made a welcoming committee fliting back and forth. Dozens of Galapagos sea lions were admired dozing along the coastline. After this wonderful morning we had the joy of having a traditional Ecuadorian lunch buffet prepared by our talented galley crew.
In the afternoon after a short navigation and an art class given by Amy Bartlett, our resident artist this week, we arrived at Punta Suarez. This visitors’ site is located in the westernmost point of Española Island. Here the abundance of wildlife is overwhelming. We were instantly surprised by the profusion of life as we landed. Colorful green and red Española marine iguanas and Darwin Finches were seen everywhere. Many young sea lion pups were admired while playing cheerfully in the shallows and all around. Some intrepid walkers moved farther inland exploring a rocky trail. High cliffs are home to many seabird species, like Nazca boobies and Swallow tailed gulls. Nazca boobies are at the height of their breeding season. These immaculate white birds were seen incubating eggs, protecting chicks, and were very active squawking and whistling, flying in and out of their nesting sites. Waved albatross were seen practicing their intricate courtship, one of the most stunning among seabirds in the world.
On our way back to our home away from home, the National Geographic Islander, we could not avoid thinking about how fortunate and how privileged we were to have had the opportunity to be part of this incredible place. What a remarkable first full day to start a week of adventure and exploration in one of the most famous and pristine paradises on earth, the Galapagos Islands.
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