Friday, Feb. 8
The sea was rough last night and many were seasick. I tried working with photos but felt nauseous so decided to just go to bed. By 9:30 pm I was sound asleep. Nice!
After our 7 am breakfast we headed to the Island of Espanola and within 5 minutes had seen several different species including sea lions, crabs, marine iguanas, a hawk, blue footed boobies, Nazca boobies....wow!
We hiked over a very rough, rocky path to the other side of the island viewing many different critters along the way. We learned how the extinction of the Espanola tortoise has affected the vegetaion. Within seconds I was sweating as 35 degrees is hot, even for me. The view was spectacular with vertical cliffs and waves spewing through blow holes. Birds were every where and you've got to be very careful to keep your distance as they certainly weren't moving for us.
We spent a couple of hours hiking and enjoying the animals, then loaded back on the pangas and headed for the boat where we were told we had 15 minutes if we wanted a swim before the boat left. I decided not to waste time changing as my clothes were soaked with sweat anyway and jumped right in. Aaaah, it was heavenly.
After another fabulous meal of soup, chicken, rice, cauliflower, salad and watermelon we headed for another beach that we could see was positively littered with sea lions. After playing with them for a half hour or so we jumped in and went snorkelling out to a big rock. There's no coral here but there certainly are lots of different fish, stingrays, sea cucumbers....lots of stuff. At one point I was just looking around when suddenly, a very large brown thing swam underneath me. It scared the crap out of me as I thought it was a shark. Nope, a sea lion. They're very fast and playful but can be dangerous.
We swam back into shore where more sea lions wanted to “play”. It's hard to keep the required 2 metres distance when they keep coming after you!
We set sail for San Cristobal and were on the look out for whales and dolphins but only got to see some frigates and other birds. It was our first disappointment but you can't have everything. :)
Dinner was octopus in onions and peppers, potatoes, a spinach and prune salad and strawberries and cream for desert. We sat with Otto and Kenneth, our Swedish professors who informed me that octopus is technically a mollusc but has been named a mammal under Swedish law as they are intelligent and capable of learning. Interesting piece of trivial!
Tonight's briefing included a lesson on sharks as hopefully we'll be seeing some tomorrow. Daniel showed us photos of shark positions that mean they're dangerous but by the time you SEE a shark like that, it's too late. Lots of fun!