Today was a pretty spectacular day to start off the expedition. North Seymour is a smaller, sibling island to Baltra. Its English name is South Seymour. Both have flying machines coming in and out all day. Baltra has human-crafted airplanes. North Seymour has flying machines perfected by natural selection over the millennia, including magnificent and great frigatebirds, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, lava gulls, and Darwin’s finches. Courtship behavior by the frigates and boobies was in full display! The terrestrial creatures found during the walk included land iguanas, lava lizards, and sea lions. All the endemic animals are unique to the archipelago and found nowhere else on earth.
We were back on board by midmorning to escape the increasing heat and humidity. The cool air inside the ship was appreciated. By midafternoon, we had completed an abandon ship drill, a snorkeling briefing, lunch, and a photo talk. We were ready to get wet and headed to Rabida’s world-renowned red beach. We had a refresher course in snorkeling and tried out the equipment to see what we could find underwater. We observed schools of razor surgeonfish, streamer hogfish, a white-tip reef shark, and diamond stingrays. A young sea lion lolled in the shallows for a few minutes.
We took a late afternoon walk to a small lagoon just behind the salt bushes and enjoyed a spectacular showing of flamingos as they displayed their colors while flying…what’s not to like?
It was a tremendously full day. To top it off, Alice Skehel, an on-board researcher from the Galapagos Science Center, shared a presentation about her work on seabirds!