Nov 12, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II
This is our first full day in the Enchanted Islands, and in the early morning, we prepared to visit North Seymour. A small, flat island located in the heart of the archipelago, this place is teaming with life. Thanks to its highly productive surrounding waters, various marine birds have made this their home. It is quite stunning, the fact that we are able to walk through active sea bird colonies, and they do not flee from our presence. We followed a rocky trail towards the interior of North Seymour, an area favored as a nesting site to both the magnificent and great Frigatebird species. Known as kleptoparasites or the pirates of the air, they are really the masters of flight. We could see how active they are during the day: either gaining height with the raising thermals, or chasing other birds, courting or fishing. This species has the record of having the largest wingspan-to-weight ratio of all birds. Another very interesting bird found on the shores of North Seymour is the endemic swallow-tailed gull, the only nocturnal gull in the planet. The island also has a small colony of blue-footed boobies, some of which were briefly feeding their young.
During lunchtime, our ship navigated towards Rábida Island, our destination in the afternoon. It looks rather different to North Seymour, with higher grounds and peaks, and red sands and terrain. Rábida is also a great place for snorkeling; therefore, we made our way to either the beach or the shoreline in the early part of the afternoon. The conditions were great to observe many species of fish like the parrotfish, white and striped salemas, snappers and even a white-tipped reef shark.
At the beach, snorkelers had the constant company of several Galápagos sea lions: some of them were in the water, while others warmed themselves in the sun up on the beach. What a treat!
Along the inland walk, we appreciated the beautiful landscape of the arid vegetation of the Galápagos, mainly dominated by prickly pears and incense trees. Here, we also spotted several land birds, like the small and medium-billed ground finches, Galápagos mockingbirds, doves and flycatchers. As the day came to an end we had to make our way back to the landing beach; the skies were clear and as the sun set we could see the outline of the young volcanoes of remote Isabela Island. It was a real vibrancy of color all around us… it was the magic of the Galápagos on full display.