Darwin Lake, Isabela Island
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
15 Days In The Galapagos Islands
We once again moved overnight. And when we woke up this morning we were anchored off of Fernandina Island near Espinosa Point.
After breakfast, we were soon aboard the Zodiacs and heading for shore.
Espinosa Point Walk
Espinosa Point is a prime nesting beach for the Marine Iguanas and there were a lot of them there.
We witnessed an iguana wrestling match and took a little video.
Later, we watched finches feeding on the small bugs on the iguanas.
There were also quite a few sea lions hanging out.
While we were listening to our guide, this young pup decided to take an interest in the youngest member of our group.
Looking up, a Galapagos Hawk did a fly-by.
Moving around the point, we had some stunning views.
In one corner, we located a few Flightless Cormorants, some of which were nesting.
And of course there was an abundance of the ever-present Sally Lightfoot Crabs.
After our leisurely walk on the island, we went back to the ship where we changed and grabbed our snorkeling gear.
Espinosa Point Snorkel
Our Zodiac drivers dropped us off, and almost as soon as we hit the frigid water, Linda and I had our first underwater sea lion encounter. Here's a short video.
We've seen our share of sea lions over the years, but to finally be in the water with one of these graceful, curious animals in its natural habitat elevated the experience.
We then came to an area where the current was strong, and the visibility wasn't great, but there was quite a bit of vegetation and several sea turtles. I counted seven in the video below.
After spending time with the turtles, Linda & I found a Marine Iguana feeding. It was our first and only time to get to see one underwater. It was a brief encounter as you can see in the next video.
Along with some common reef fish like the Sergeant Majors and Yellowtail Surgeonfish, we saw a Marbled Ray and got a good photo of this Bullseye Puffer.
After about forty-five minutes to an hour, we climbed back onto the Zodiacs and went back to the yacht for more hot chocolate, a shower, and lunch.
We moved across the channel to our next destination - Tagus Cove on the western side of Isabela Island.
Tagus Cove Kayaking
The crew lowered the inflatable kayaks from the top deck and tied them together behind a Zodiac.
They towed the kayaks over to the wall of the cove, and we slid from the Zodiacs into the kayaks.
We paddled along the walls of the cove where Linda & I spent quite a bit of time with some Galapagos Penguins. We nosed the kayak into the rocks and Linda talked to the penguins trying to get them to respond, but her efforts and penguin sounds had no effect.
It was hard to take photos from the kayak and, though we love paddling, the kayak excursions on this trip were our least favorite. However, later we took a Zodiac ride along the cliffs and got some great shots.
Tagus Cove Darwin Lake Hike
After paddling the kayaks back to the Domenica, we then boarded the Zodiacs once again. They took us to the dry landing for our walk up the hillside.
Walking up the steps, there was an overhang to our right where a couple of sea lions were hanging out beside the graffiti left by sailors of the past.
Taking a left, we climbed more steps and then an uphill dirt path. Here's a shot looking back down at the cove, the boats, and across the channel to Fernandina Island where we were this morning.
We walked through the bare Palo Santo trees until we reached as stopping point overlooking Darwin Lake.
Our guide told us that the sailors were excited to find this lake which sits inside a tuff cone above the bay. However, they were disappointed to find that the lake contains saltwater rather than the fresh water they were hoping for.
There is no life in the lake, and it's very interesting how the saltwater gets in through fissures although the lake itself is well above the sea level.
We continued up the hill for better views of the colorful lake with Tagus Cove and our ship in the background. Next to the view from the summit of Bartolome Island, this view from above Darwin Lake is probably the second-most popular in the islands.
After getting plenty of photos, we headed down. There was the possibility of seeing Land Iguanas or even a Giant Tortoise, but we didn't see anything other then finches on this little hike.
We made the easy walk down the hill, hopped on the Zodiacs, and made our way back to the ship. Ah, but there was one last excursion, our sixth of the day.
We had choices. We could either snorkel in the cove, take a Zodiac ride, or skip it all together. The snorkeling didn't sound all that promising, so we opted for the Zodiac ride so that we could get better photos of the birds on the cliffs.
Tagus Cove Zodiac Ride
Our seaman took us out toward the mouth of the cove along the colorful rock walls.
Everything blends in from a distance, but as we got close we were able to get some nice photos of the birds on the rocks. Below are Brown Noddy Terns, Flightless Cormorants (with chicks), Blue-footed Boobies, and Galapagos Penguins.
As I mentioned in a prior post, the Galapagos Penguin is the second smallest species of penguin (the smallest are the Little Penguins along the southern coast of Australia and New Zealand), and it is the only penguin species that lives north of the equator (although all the ones we have seen have been slightly south of the equator).
Penguins are also a favorite of Linda's so we have an abundance of penguin photos and videos. We were in the water with a couple briefly at Bartolome, but she is hoping for a longer penguin snorkeling experience.
Before heading back to the ship, I got this shot of a White-vented Storm Petrel in feeding mode with its legs dangling as it seemed to walk across the water.
Back onboard, we relaxed a little before our evening briefing and dinner. The anchor was raised and we pulled out of Tagus Cove for a long night of travel.
The sun illuminated the rocks and the moon was already in the sky.
During the briefing, the captain invited any who were interested to join him on the bridge tonight as we returned north across the equator. We could take a photo of the instruments as they showed zero degrees latitude.
We took him up on the offer.
On the map at the top of the page, you can see that Isabela Island is shaped like a seahorse. Well, the equator runs right through the nose of the seahorse, so we were just west (left) of the nose at the reading above.
It was just a little bit of icing on the cake of another fabulous day.