Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring Floreana Island. We began the day with a pre-breakfast walk at Cormorant Point, which glimmers green with abundant olivine deposits. There are very few green, olivine beaches in the world.
At a nearby brackish lagoon, quite a few flamingos were actively feeding. We could hear them filtering crustaceans with their specialized beaks. On the other side of Cormorant Point, we visited a beautiful white sand beach where many Pacific green sea turtles make their nests. Galapagos is the most important place in the Eastern Tropical Pacific seascape for green sea turtles, with almost 5,000 nesting females. More than half of all beaches on the islands are nesting sites.
After breakfast, we disembarked for a Zodiac cruise around Champion Islet. This is a very special site because a very small satellite population of Floreana mockingbirds inhabits this islet. The mockingbirds disappeared from Floreana Island due to invasive species. What’s fascinating is that over a very short time, this satellite population has genetically diverged from the original Floreana mockingbird. The Galapagos National Park is working with an NGO called Island Conservation to eradicate the invasive species before repatriating mockingbirds back to Floreana Island.
After our Zodiac cruise, we explored the marine realm of Champion Islet. This snorkel site is teeming with wildlife. As soon as we entered the water we were greeted with large schools of fish, including king angelfish, Pacific creole fish, burrito grunts and more! Several groups of playful sea lions came very close to check us out. We also observed mobula rays, sea turtles, and sharks. It was an incredible experience.
After lunch, we disembarked for Baroness Bay and the Floreana Post Office. Guests had the opportunity to kayak and paddle board in Baroness Bay, where they encountered many sea turtles, rays, and red mangroves. Next stop was the famous Post Office barrel, which has a fascinating history. Established as an informal mail system in the late 1700s, sailors passing through would drop off and pick up letters to maintain contact with loved ones back home. At the barrel, guests experienced the time-honored tradition of dropping off postcards to be delivered by hand by future visitors to this site—no USPS allowed! Some guests collected postcards with addresses close to their homes for hand delivery.
PHOTO BY JOSHUA VELA FONSECA: An aerial view of Champion Islet.