September 16, 2007
Galapagos Cruise Day 3
We made it to Espanola Island at about 5:00 AM, and finally the engines were cut off and we stopped rocking so violently. I managed to get a couple hours of good sleep before our wakeup call for breakfast. Most of the other passengers were very hungry after not being able to hold down their dinner last night, and breakfast was wolfed down at record speed today.
We rode the small boat to Gardner Bay, which was the nicest looking beach we had been to yet. As we walked along the white sandy shore, we were greeted by lots of sea lions, some mockingbirds, and a few iguanas. One of the mockingbirds thought Daniela's hair would make a tasty meal and proceeded to chomp it down to Daniela's surprise and disgust.
Next we had another opportunity to go snorkeling. There weren't quite as many animals as yesterday, but I did get to swim with some fish and a stingray. The water was cold again, and even with the wet suit, I could only snorkel for a short time before freezing. It wasn't how I expected the equatorial waters to be.
This afternoon we took the Friend Ship to Punta Suarez on the other side of the island. As soon as we set foot on shore, we walked directly into a deadly fight between two male sea iguanas who were competing for a mate. We stood in a circle and cheered on this act of animal barbarism like we were on the set of Mad Max. The lizards put their heads together, stared into each other's eyes, and pushed themselves all around the sand. Sometimes, they wrestled until one bit the other so hard he drew blood. We watched this fight in amazement for about twenty minutes, when Wilmer made us leave because we still had so much more to see.
As we continued walking, we ran into hordes of nesting blue foot boobies. We learned how the males have smaller pupils than their female counterparts, and how they have different calls to attract one another. We also saw lots of masked boobies, who shared much of the same territory with their blue footed cousins.
Next we headed to a large cliff with water constantly spraying all over the rocks below. It reminded me a lot of West Point Island on the Falkland Islands, except this time instead of seeing black browed albatrosses, we saw the waved species native to the Galapagos. There were constantly birds of several different species flying directly over us.
The real treat of the day was when we got to see the albatrosses do their mating dance. They clicked their beaks together, bounced their heads up and down, and flapped their wings in a perfect display of mirroring. Every now and then a third albatross would join in and their would be a party of sorts. The noise of their beaks rapidly smacking each other was hypnotic, and we had a hard time walking away despite Wilmer's insistence that we had to go. I've been so amazed at what I've seen every day of this cruise, I didn't think it possibly could get any better. Yet every day has, in fact, been better than the last.
We had another long night of steaming through rough waters toward Floreana Island, and once again, we left right after eating supper. However, tonight Daniela and I had a secret weapon. Being the good doctor that she was, Daniela came fully equipped with a first aid kit, including seasickness pills. The boat was even rockier than last night, but Daniela and I were able to enjoy the ride while everyone else looked green with envy.
The photo album for this entry is here.