150908 Galápagos Islands

Wake up calls on this ship are always at 6:45am with breakfast at 7:00am. Ship time is the same as Ecuador time but really is an hour behind Galapagos time so there is no need to move our watches back an hour.

Each time we leave the ship, we do so in rubber boats with a maximum of 20 passengers. Landings can be either dry or wet, the wet landing meaning that our feet will get wet as we arrive on a sandy beach. Our first wet landing is prior to our morning walk along rocky volcanic lava outcrops.

Initially, finding a marine Iguana is a treat but they quickly become like the zebras and wildebeest in Africa – all over the rocky outcrops sunning themselves before taking to the waters for feeding. The Iguana is a dirty black, hideous looking lizard that is sluggish in its movements. Commonly, it is about a metre long but sometimes a little longer weighing in at up to 20 pounds. The four feet are partially webbed and the tails are flattened sideways. It is very difficult to see them as they blend in perfectly to the lava rock along the shores. But there are many of them sometimes laying over each other and they just sit there, observing the rare movement of passers by. When in the water, this lizard swims with perfect ease and quickness. The legs are motionless and closely collapsed on it sides. They feed on marine plankton.

Also inhabiting the lava rocks are Sally light-foot Crabs, and a few sea lions, basking in the sun on the warm rocks.

We see many marine birds like the common Blue Footed Bobbie, a sluggish looking large bird but with fine accuracy when diving for that stray fish near the surface of the ocean. Along the shore, we notice various bird species such as pelicans, Lava Herons, and the highly territorial American Oystercatchers, which usually live in pairs that can occupy large expanses of the shoreline.

Although the land formation is a little on the barren-side, land birds such as the semi-palmated plover, willets, finches and yellow warblers also call this desolate land their home. Small desert lizards are seen on the sandy trail courting their mate for the season.

On our return to the landing beach, we change our interest all together to the sea creatures. Nearly everyone takes to the water for a look under the surface. The rocky outcrops are teaming with fish. The GoPro comes in handy now. But the user still has some finer adjustments to make in order that he correctly has the lens of the camera pointing to where the fish are, not just under them. Oh well, next time is later in the day.

Later in the afternoon, we board the rubber dinghies again and head for a walk up a volcano. The boardwalk makes a big difference to walking, as the volcanic ash areas are very slippery. There is very little vegetation as we take the climb to the top of this steep volcano. A yellow-coloured cactus is out on its own enjoying the warmth of the tropical sun with a fabulous view to the bay below. Once on top of the volcano, photos are the order of the day to record the energetic mastertrekkers of volcano.

We are treated to a bar-b-q on the pool deck for dinner with drinks supplied by Scenic Tours, followed by a short sequence of karaoke.

Tomorrow? more snorkelling, walks and talks.

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