Today was the last journey of this magnificent week. We have seen killer whales, dolphins, sea birds, marine mammals, and reptiles such as marine and land iguanas. We had the experience of swimming with sea lions, penguins, sharks, and much more. What else we could we ask for? It was very hard to pick a highlight of the week and that’s a good sign.
This has been an amazing trip and here we are on Genovesa Island, the frosting on the cake! The island is home to all kinds of seabirds such as red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, diurnal short-eared owls, sea gulls, mockingbirds, finches, and frigates.
Early in the morning, around 6:30 a.m., some of our early-bird guests jumped onto kayaks and explored the island along the old caldera ring that forms Darwin Bay. This cliff is full of life: sea birds such as red-billed tropic birds nest there; some Galápagos fur seals love rest in the crevices during the day; and frigatebirds chase red-footed boobies to steal their food. How do they do this? Well, the frigatebirds grab the smaller birds by the tail and make them to regurgitate their food! What a competition!
After breakfast we landed on a small beach for an amazing walk. All the animals were so close to us and their quantities were astonishing. Red mangroves are nesting sites for red-footed boobies and salt bushes are preferred for frigatebirds to nest and rest on. Here, the opuntia cacti grow as low bushes with soft, short spines because there are no giant tortoises or land iguanas to eat them. Almost at the very end of our walk, we found some very cute baby frigates.
Later on, during our last snorkeling session, our highlight was seeing a Galápagos shark. The water was warmer than other islands we visited this week and we saw Moorish idols, parrotfish, and harlequins. In the afternoon we went to Prince Phillip’s Steps, a visitors’ site on the south side of Genovesa. Our goal was to see short-eared owls feeding on storm petrels. Normally, these owls are nocturnal but here they are diurnal because their main competitors, the Galápagos hawks, are absent. Well, we saw five owls and that is a lot for such a unique bird. The spectacular scenery featured a large old lava field that appeared deserted and dry; nevertheless, it was covered by thousands of storm petrels that nest in caves and by owls hiding in holes close by to catch them.
The golden time for pictures came when the sky suddenly turned into pink and reddish colors, and the feathers of the Nazca boobies turned into warm tones. The sun at the equator falls so quickly and soon it was time to return to the ship. To remember our great time on this voyage, we watched an incredible slideshow with pictures from all our guests. We had a farewell cocktail and, between hugs and photos, we said goodbye to each other.