We woke up to the view of Chinese Hat (a small shield volcano) from our cabin window. After breakfast we went on a Zodiac ride to explore the rocky shores of Santiago Island and Chinese Hat. Along the coastline we spotted a couple of Galapagos penguins fishing and others resting at the intertidal area. Galapagos penguins are not plentiful within this archipelago; fewer than 2,000 are found here. We were extremely lucky to photograph a couple of them from our Zodiac.
After the Zodiac ride, we went deep-water snorkeling and encountered large schools of fish, sting rays, and some whitetip reef sharks. Snorkeling here was fantastic and quite diverse in terms of wildlife.
After lunch, we went swimming and snorkeling off a new visitor site known as Sullivan Bay. Located off the coast of Santiago Island, this site consists of a large area of black basaltic lava from a young volcanic eruption (1897). After a visit to a white sandy beach, we hiked on this black lava and learned about the process of primary succession in the Galapagos.
Pioneer species are just getting established on this new terrain; in thousands of years this island will have a well-established ecosystem of its own.