We woke up to a breathtaking landscape of Dragon hill visitor site located on Santa Cruz Island. After a dry landing, we hiked farther into the incense tree forest in search of the Galapagos land iguanas. A soon as we reached the island forest, we found a brackish water lagoon where we spotted a couple of American flamingos feeding on brine shrimp. After arriving into the arid vegetation zone of Santa Cruz, we found several of the golden dragons, land iguanas, feasting onto prickly pear cactus and others resting under the bitter berry bushes.
Dragon Hill is an area which has been restored by the efforts of the Galapagos National Park Service, by controlling the numbers of introduced animals in this area; animals such as goats, pigs and feral cats. After an incredible hike, we returned to National Geographic Endeavour ll to suit up and go deep water snorkeling along the coast of Guy Fawkes Islets. While snorkeling, we had the opportunity to swim with a couple of Galapagos sea lions, a few blue chin parrotfishes, and we spotted a large variety of colorful marine invertebrates along the underwater walls of these isles. Coming back from the snorkeling site, we spotted a couple of large mobula rays mating right in front of our Zodiac.
After lunch, we disembarked on a Zodiac ride along the coast of Eden islet as well as the coast of Santa Cruz. Eden is actually a satellite islet of Santa Cruz itself. During the Zodiac ride, we found a neat little spot surrounded by red mangroves and sheltering a small cove. Within this cove, we countered several baby black-tipped reef sharks resting between the red mangrove roots, as well as a couple of spotted eagle rays.
Along the coast of Eden Islet, we found a few blue-footed boobies on display of their colorful feet, brown pelicans, and one of our most exciting highlights of the day was an adult great blue heron feeding its chick right in front of us. After returning to the ship, we navigated around Daphne Major Islet and learned about the study on Darwin finches that have been developed on this island.