GUEST POST by Kim Ossi, Planet Forward

After fueling up with a delicious breakfast, we started our day aboard the Zodiacs under overcast skies. Clouds obscured the tops of the volcanos around us in Urbina Bay. We took Zodiacs to the beach for a wet landing on a steep, dark grey shore. We observed sea turtle tracks leading up to nests. Our guides prepared us for spotting land iguanas and tortoises, but likely more iguanas. We observed a hermit crab hanging onto a branch and dozens of Darwin’s finches before we spotted a large Alcedo Galápagos tortoise taking a stroll directly down the path toward our group. We audibly gasped in excitement.

We soon came upon two more tortoises, another large one and a smaller one. We observed land burrows dotting the trail, indicating the presence of iguanas. When an eagled-eyed guest finally spotted an iguana, it was deep in the brush. The yellow and rust-covered leaves that littered the sand beneath the trees camouflaged the iguana. We also spotted the appropriately named sulphur butterfly flitting about. We saw several female Galápagos carpenter bees. They love the yellow flowers blooming around the trail. Although we spied several wasps, we only saw one nest that looked abandoned. In terms of the big animals we encountered, we saw eight or nine tortoises in total on this excursion, and perhaps four land iguanas of varying colors. We followed our hike with a swim in the brisk but refreshing water before returning to National Geographic Endeavour II.

Depending on our preference after lunch, some guests boarded kayaks or paddleboards for a peaceful paddle along Targus Cove, which was covered in interesting graffiti. We spotted a sign from the Disney crew near the steps and railing leading up to land. Among the wildlife, we observed Galápagos flightless cormorants, Galápagos penguins, Sally Lightfoot crabs, green sea turtles and a medium-sized blue bird with red feet—a striated heron. We followed our paddle with deep water snorkeling. We swam with sea turtles nibbling plants and active penguins. The penguins were hard to catch on camera because they zipped by so quickly. We also experienced a few extra fun sights. Galápagos sea lions danced around us in the water, playfully putting on a show. An eagle ray was caught on film, low to the sea floor. A Galápagos shark swam by quickly, causing a lot of excitement!

Last but not least, the final excursion of our day was a Zodiac ride along the coast. We spotted lots of penguins, more cormorants, sea lions, marine iguanas and mating sea turtles. After dinner, we watched “Origin.” David Attenborough hosts this film about the Galapagos. It was quite interesting to learn more about some of the creatures we had just encountered in the wild.