Isla Española - The Galapagos
May 7, 2006
|Arrived at the beautiful beach of Española to find sea lions strewn out the full length of it sunbathing. Male sea lions (bulls) patrolled their territory in the sea keeping a watchful eye out for rival males and tourists who got too close!
We took a walk along the beach and then joined the sea lions in sunbathing for while. Other groups took to snorkelling off the beach but with bulls in the water and looking aggressive we decided to give it a miss. Instead or tour guide radioed the panga boat to come and take us to a rock formation about 500 metres off the beach. It turned out to be a blessing as Paul got to swim, with a manta ray, a couple of sea lions and a 5 foot shark - he wasn't too proud to admit his heart went in his mouth when he saw shark just a few feet away from him!
Helen remained on the beach trying to get some colour.
In the afternoon we sailed to another part of the island for a dry landing onto a rocky area and proceeded onto the mainland.
Our first encounter was with a galapagos hawk that was keeping an eye on us as we landed. Further in land we got to the see the islands unique species of marine iguana - red patches on its skin from eating the local algae.
The island is a major breeding sight for two particular species of booby - those of the blue footed and masked variety.
We managed to see a blue footed booby mother with a newly hatched chick. The mother had obviously managed protect her chick whilst in the shell from the hood mockingbird which targets the eggs as a food source. The mockingbirds are particularly brash and apparently take great delight in being mischievous with such tricks as picking unsuspecting tourists shoelaces.
Espanola Island is also the nesting place of the waved albatross. Not as big as the royal albatross we saw in New Zealand they were however just as beautiful. The bird is particularly shy for an animal of the Galapagos and for this reason we had to be careful not to get too close to the nesting sights.
With the sun going down we all sat down at the edge of a cliff and watched the birds in flight for while - it seemed a very special place to see all of these birds in flight together.
We sailed while we ate that night for some strange reason. This caused Helen to miss some of her dinner as it became too choppy for her to eat and she needed to lie down to avert the feeling of seasickness. We arrived at Floreana around 1 am and had an unbroken nights sleep after that.