Floreana Island

Dec 17, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


The early bird gets the worm, indeed! We disembarked early at Cormorant Point and had two highlights; one was a big brackish water lagoon filled with the pinkest birds on earth, the Galapagos greater flamingos. There were about 60 of them eating on the nutritious creatures hiding in the lagoon. One such creature is a very tiny shrimp, called Artimia salina, which is a favorite flamingo food. Some of these amazing birds were seen nesting by the edge of the lagoon. They build a castle of mud and lay anywhere from one to three eggs. The second surprise was a couple of marine turtles copulating on a pristine white sand beach. December is the beginning of the green Pacific marine turtle season in the Galapagos. Other wildlife was spotted along the shoreline, diamond stingrays and some sharks could be easily observed swimming by. We also saw some blue-footed boobies nesting by a little cliff along the coast, and the final touch were some sea lions resting and relaxing on the sand.

Once back on board we had breakfast and then moved to explore a very small islet known as Champion, where there are still a few dozen of Floreana mockingbirds, one of four species that are living in the Galapagos. Charles Darwin collected them when he visited the enchanted island in 1835. Along the cliff of champion, we spotted many shearwaters, brown noddy terns and seagulls. On our Zodiac ride, our friendly sea lion companions were at the ready just playing, or even jumping out of the water! A few minutes after, we snorkeled in the same area. The ocean was crystal clear, and we enjoyed the magnificent marine wildlife—turtles, reef fish, sea stars, sea urchins and more.

In the afternoon, we moved a close distance to Post Office Bay, a legendary place where the first man lived in the Galapagos from 1807 to 1809. Once Ecuador became a country, it claimed the islands in 1832, and since then many other people have tried to colonize the Galapagos. We disembarked on a green beach made of olivine and seashells. The shoreline here was filled with diamond stingrays. Then we walked behind the beach to learn about the first mailing system of South America, established in 1790. After mailing our post cards and learning about the island’s human history, we explored the bay; some of us on kayaks, others on paddleboards or Zodiacs. We rode in search of turtles, rays, and seabirds. The frosting on the cake for such a great day was a flock of flamingoes basking on a very small beach which separate the bay. That encounter was so close, and we loved every moment of it!

Back on board, we enjoyed some wine tasting on the sundeck and celebrating another wonderful day. We welcomed the quite Galapagos night, filled with stars and constellations.

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About the Author

Christian Saa

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Christian was born on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos archipelago. He grew up on a farm and had a magical childhood devoid of cars, electricity, telephones—just pure nature and playful sea lions along the beach. At the age of seven, he moved with his family to Santa Cruz Island, the economic hub of the Galápagos Islands. His father began to work in tourism and took Christian around the islands during school vacations. It was during this time that Christian learned to love and understand the real value of this unique archipelago, and he decided to devote his life to its stewardship. A lifelong passion for nature and its creatures took root in his heart, and he eventually decided to become a naturalist, which he has now been doing for 18 years now.

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