Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring North Seymour and Rabida Islands. We disembarked for an early morning hike at North Seymour in search of frigate birds and the Galapagos land iguana. North Seymour is unique in that we can observe the frigate birds nesting year-round. Guests were delighted to observe several male frigate birds with their beautiful red membrane pouches inflated; these birds attract females with this red beacon of light amongst the palo santo trees. Because North Seymour is exhibits year-round nesting of these sea birds, it is a wonderful place to encounter juveniles of this species. Hatchlings remain in the nest for extended periods in order to ensure successful fledglings; the lifestyle of frigate birds is quite complicated, which means that they require some time to learn how to perform acrobatic stunts and steal from others - all the while maneuvering their massive wingspans.
Another iconic resident seabird of the Galapagos Islands, the blue-footed booby, made several appearances along the trail at North Seymour. We observed several curious juveniles and a few new hatchlings. We discussed the blue-footed booby’s behavioral adaptation of facultative siblicide, where food competition occurs amongst sequentially lain eggs. We also encountered several species endemic to the archipelago, including two species of iguanas and the Galapagos sea lion.
After lunch, guests enjoyed a talk about Darwin in the Galapagos. After which, we disembarked to explore the marine realm of Rabida Island. Guests in search of snorkeling tips went to the red sand beach shallower snorkeling, with others opting for the deep-water option. At Rabida, we observed white-tipped reef sharks, the top predator of the marine food web. We also observed some mating behavior of the Galapagos fur seal. Two adult fur seals were chasing each other, moving round and around in circles as we watched in awe. Guests also experienced the joy of swimming with curious and playful Galapagos sea lions.
In the afternoon, guests disembarked once more for Rabida Island to enjoy the sunset at the red sand beach. Our photo instructor, Cristian Saa, offered a photography walk option to guests interested in learning more about how to capture better light in their photographs. We observed Galapagos sea lions along the beach, flamingos in the lagoon, and a beautiful viewpoint at the top of the hill.