Galápagos for a second week -what a privilege! We were curious to see what other creatures and landscapes the other islands more to the West on Itinerary B had to offer.
Sunday: Baltra – Las Bachas (20/11/2016)
The ship was refuelled and Maja Homberger came on board with the new passengers -this time we were only 11. From Baltra it was only a short distance to reach Playa las Bachas on the northern section of Santa Cruz island. We were lucky to see more Iguanas, many Blue-footed Boobies,2 Flamingos in a laguna ( there are only a few flamingos on Galapagos).
We then visited a beach to see whether Turtles have laid any eggs yet, saw some spotted rays and went for a swim. Interesting was to see how mangroves get rid of excess salt via their leaves.
At supper we were back in Baltra harbour and the crew ceremoniously introduced themselves to the new guests.
Monday: Mosquera – Cerro Dragon (21/11)
We rose early and made our way by zodiac to the islet Mosquera, where plenty of sea lions awaited us. They are a pleasure to observe surfing in the waves. The Sea Lions came very close -sometimes too close for comfort and we moved away. After the issue of snorkeling gear and wetsuits for the week, we went for a swim and saw a lot of sea life -rays, sharks, surgeonfish, etc.
The Angelito I then relocated to Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz for a land outing: Turtles, Land-and Marine Iguanas,, large Cacti. As we walked around the hill we realised how dry the area was -two years of virtually no rainfall. There are still some goats and donkeys on Santa Cruz that eat the cacti -a problem as the cactus does not survive once the bark is eaten all around.The cacti are the staple diet for land iguanas.
Tuesday: Tagus Cove (Isabela) – Punta Espinoza (Fernandina) (22/11)
Tagus Cove is formed by the caldera of an extinct volcano. We wandered up the side wall where there should be many finches -however, it was extremely dry.
The views across the lagunas were beautiful.
The Palo Santo forests were white and leafless, we saw a sunflower tree, Euphorbias and Darwin Cactus. From the top the volcanos Alcedo, Darwin and the Darwin lava fields and volcano Wolf could be seen as well as the emerald green Darwin lake lower down.
As we returned to catch the Zodiac we saw our first flightless cormorant. We then went snorkelling below the cliffs and could watch both the cormorants as well as penguins fishing with high speed under water by them checking each little hole and cave in the steep wall. In this area we counted 7 Green Pacific turtles feeding.
After lunch we visited Punta Espinosa on island Fernandina. As we approached by rubberduck, marine iguanas could be seen exiting the waters after the midday feeding session. They needed to return to land to warm up.
Interesting were the many iguana skeletons -two years prior the sea temperatures had risen to the degree that less algae grew with the resultant loss of approx 50% of the iguana population, apparently due to the el Niño phenomenon. The area rewarded our visit richly with sightings of seals, Pelicans, Cormorants, Lava Herons, Lava Lizards and a good sighting of a Gal.Hawk.
The number of marine iguanas here was very high and we could observe some males asserting their status.
The golden dry sea lions sunning themselves on the black lava were a special sight at Punta Espinosa.
While the boat navigated to our next destination, we could observe the fragile looking Galápagos storm petrels (Galápagos Wellenläufer) that seem to walk on the water while feeding on krill.
Wednesday: Isla Isabela : Urbina Bay – Elizabeth Bay (23/11)
The next three stops were all on Isla Isabela – first Urbina bay, then Bahia Elizabeth and on to Punta Moreno.
Urbina -on this beach turtles lay their eggs -for this reason a part is cordoned off. This area rose 1954 by 6m – it was interesting to see the changes in vegetation which included the very poisonous Apple tree which only iguanas can feed on. The milky sap produces a sunburn type affect if it gets on the skin and for humans eating them accidently can lead to death.
We saw mainly finches in this area, no tortoises although there should be some in this area. Snorkeling from the beach was exciting as we saw a few very large Pacific Green turtles feeding ahead of the breeding season.
Note: click on the video to play and also to stop it from looping.
While travelling to Elizabeth bay we had the luck of seeing approx. 50 dolphins and as many sea lions that followed us.
Once we arrived we took a late afternoon zodiac cruise into the mangroves, where many turtles rest and feed in preparation of laying their eggs. Towards evening we arrived in Punta Moreno.
This post covers 20th – 23th November 2016