Today is our first full day in the Galapagos archipelago, the magic of which revealed itself early on our first outing at North Seymour. Just less than two square kilometers, this land is one of the most critical nesting sites for blue-footed boobies, and both the magnificent and great frigate birds. A few feet into the walk, we found a swallow-tailed gull with a very young chick. Further along we found a few male frigate birds with pouches full and ablaze, each making different sounds and flapping their wings as the females flew above.
Deep in the trail, we saw a blue-footed booby male, bill raised to be seen by a nearby female. She ignored his posturing, but he kept at it, trying for her attention, doing it’s whistling, showing blue feet – sure signs of courting. Seymour has a unique landscape of pillow lava sections and bushy vegetation, made up of small palo santo trees and opuntia cactus where we spot the yellow lands Iguanas. In the afternoon, we visited Rabida Island, a red sand beach and a saltwater lagoon where we found greater flamingos. Here we have a remarkable snorkeling session with Galapagos sea lions, spotting white-tipped reef sharks and colorful fishes nearby. There has been so much seen in one day and so many close and meaningful encounters with nature: Certainly this experience will be in our hearts forever. We are just beginning to understand the value behind conserving spaces such as this. It is a learning experience for those of us aboard National Geographic Endeavour II.