Day 3: Blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas

This past week I cruised the Galapagos Islands on the M/Y Eric, operated by Ecoventura. As I did not have access to internet, I am going to post my daily blogs this week.

Sept. 22: Fernandina and Isabela islands

Last night we made another big run, almost 125 nautical miles, to Fernandina Island, and again there was a lot of rocking and rolling. But this morning almost everyone reported sleeping well as we were tired from our many adventures (and lack of sleep) the night before.

Up close with a marine iguana
Up close with a marine iguana

So we were ready for our adventure this morning, which was a hike over the black volcanic rock on Fernandina Island. All of the Galapagos islands are volcanic, and many of these are still active but the most recent eruption was here, on Fernandina, this past April. The eruption was on the other side of the island from where we landed.

Fernandina was quite different than Genovese. There are huge slabs of black lava all the exterior while much of the interior is finely shredded seashells and sea urchin spines. It can be very rough walking here and I wished I had brought even sturdier hiking boots as ankle support would have been helpful.

We had just landed on Fernandina when we spied today’s main attraction, marine iguanas, hundreds of them. These reptiles, which are pretty darned ugly, grow to be several feet long. They mate and lay their eggs on land but feed on algae in the sea. They are one of the best-known animals of the Galapagos.

There were iguanas all over the shores, but many other new species as well. We saw the bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs scampering about. Then several huge green sea turtles floated into the tidal pool at our feet. Then the great Galapagos hawk swooped overhead. All were new to us and a thrill to see.

After we all had taken dozens of iguana photos, we walked across the island to another small tidal pool and this one had at least eight of the huge sea turtles in it. What a bonanza. There was also a bull sea lion frolicking with a female…and several young sea lions learning to swim.

The famous blue-footed booby
The famous blue-footed booby

This afternoon the boat traveled from Fernandina through the Bolivar Channel to Tagus Bay on Isabela Island. This is the largest of the islands, with many volcanoes on it, but one of the least visited. Here the group had options: Some went snorkeling, others kayaking and the rest took a hike to the top of a ridge to see a lake. After this, everyone piled into one of the two “pangas,” which is what they call the inflatable boats, and we went for a ride along the cliffs of Isabela Island.

Here we saw Galapagos penguins and blue-footed boobies for the first time. These penguins are the only ones that live near the equator. They are quite small and many visitors never see them. We were fortunate to see several groups of them in the caves along the wall. The boobies were also fun to see (everyone has heard of these!) and we will see many more on this trip.

Photos by Chet and Cindy Janssens

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