Jan 31, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II
Today we visited the northwestern region of Santa Cruz Island, Dragon Hill, one of the few locations where it is still possible to see land iguanas in the wild. The lands iguanas from this part of the archipelago were decimated in the past due to the introduction of feral dogs back in the 1970s. However, thanks to the restoration efforts of the Galapagos National Park, this population of land iguanas is thriving and currently it is estimated to be around 700 individuals.
The brackish water lagoon at the beginning of our outing harbors few species of coastal and migratory birds. Today we observed one flamingo, a few black-necked stilts, a solitary whimbler, and great blue herons as well as few Galapagos land iguanas and marine iguanas.
Later in the morning, the Zodiacs took us to Gay Fawkes Islets. There we went deep-water snorkeling and observed yellow-tailed surgeonfish, scorpion fish, king angelfish, and parrotfish, among many other species of colorful fish. The vertical walls were covered with bright marine sessile invertebrates including sponges, ascidians, soft corals, hydroids, barnacles, anemones and bryozoans.
In the afternoon, we drove the Zodiacs around Eden Islet and the mangrove communities. We observed blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, juveniles hammer head sharks and white-tipped reef sharks. Later in the afternoon, the National Geographic Endeavour II sailed around Daphne Major, and our guests learned about the research that Peter and Rosemary Grant have been conducting on the Darwin finches for more than forty years. Their work has helped us to better understand the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive the dynamics of the iconic Darwin finches.
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