The first part of the day we spent snorkeling in deepwater off of Islet Gardner, it is quite exciting to all of a sudden see a sea lion swim by, they can be quite playful and love to do acrobatics under water with you. Then after lunch we had a very rough hike, lots of boulders, at Punta Suarez, Espanola where we encountered lots of sea lions, marine iguanas, Nazca boobies, blue footed boobies and albatrosses. one of or fellow passengers took a spill on the trail and they sent the entire medical team up with a stretcher, but she walked off on her own accord with cuts, bruises and a black eye. This hike was fairly strenuous is parts and you really had to watch your step and keep a steady balance. The amazing thing about the Galapagos are the animals lack of fear of humans, you can see from the pictures above they just lie in the paths and you have to walk around them.
In one of the photos above a sea lion has caught an octopus, it was so interesting to watch this, once he caught it he kept throwing it up in the air letting it hit the rocks like he was trying to tenderize it.
Sep 27, 2015 – National Geographic Endeavour
Marine Iguana napping.
Española, or Hood Island, is the oldest island in Galapagos, at approximately 4 million years of age. Even though it’s an old island, if you compare its age to the age of the planet itself, which is around 6.4 billion years, we can still see Española as a young formation. The species on this island have had more time to evolve in isolation, and we can see many interesting varieties of the Galapagos creatures here. As we started to walk among the lava, we could see that erosion had converted the lava flows into boulders. The strenuous walk took us to the nesting ground of the waved albatross—one of the part-time inhabitants of this site. We were lucky enough to see the first pair of males circling the landing area and eventually landing—what an incredible sighting this was and how worthwhile it made the walk for us.
As we landed on the island, it was amazing to see how many baby sea lions had been born in the last few days. Babies were just everywhere, some were with their mothers and some had been left behind as the mothers had gone into the ocean to fish. The sea lion pups at this age are very demanding when it comes to nursing, so the females normally leave the babies on the beaches while they go out to look for fish.
As we continued to hike along the trail, we had a chance to see the entire breeding cycle of the Nazca boobies: couples courting, couples making a nest, couples preening each other, parents feeding chicks and even independent chicks defying hawks, as they know that they are too big to be eaten anymore.
The albatross is an oceanic bird that only comes to land to reproduce, and they have chosen this particular island because of the cliffs, which make it easier for them to take off—being oceanic, they are big and need the extra help of the wind to make it into the sky. The mockingbird of Española is one of the four present in the archipelago—so far we have had a chance to see two of the four species found in the Galapagos. They are one of the species that got Darwin’s attention back in 1835, and he collected three out of the four, noticing that they have some physical differences and he quoted: “there is a difference between the inhabitants of the different islands…”
As we returned to the ship at sunset, we understood how these fragile places need to be protected, not only for us and for future generations to see, but for the animal species that belong here!