Galapagos Day 4: Dramatic views and lots of Sally Lightfoot crabs

This past week I cruised the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador 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. 23: Santiago Island

Today our first visit was to James Bay on Santiago Island. Here we landed on a black sand beach and then walked across a peninsula to a dramatic shoreline shore of black volcanic rock.

At the Grottos
At the Grottos

Ivan explains that when Charles Darwin first visited here he recorded many land iguanas living here but when other researchers came here 45 years later there were none. It is believed that goats and pigs were introduced and probably killed off the iguanas. In time, there were thousands of goats living on Santiago Island, endangering the native species. So in the early 2000’s, an eradication program eliminated over 100,000 goats. Today they believe that only 12 goats still live here.

The volcanic rock formations on the far beach are impressive, The most famous formation is called The Grottos, and is an actual bridge that you can walk over (if you can get the marine iquanas to get out of the way). In this area, we see the Furry Seals, which are not actually seals, but a different species of sea lion. There are plenty of Sally Lightfoot crabs here as well, and many of us continue to try to get a perfect pictures of this skittish creature.

When we return to the black beach, many of our group go snorkeling and they saw sea turtles, rays, pufferfish, sharks and many schools of colorful fish.

The colorful Sally Lightfoot crab
The colorful Sally Lightfoot crab

For lunch back aboard the Eric, we were treated to a special Ecuadorian buffet that featured shrimp ceviche (delicious!), chicken stew, hominy and corn meal, corn cakes and peanut sauce and a tasty rice pudding for dessert.

That afternoon we traveled to Sombrero Chino (“China Hat), a large formation on Santiago Island, and many of us snorkeled off the pangas. The water was a bit rough and visibility not as good but we did see a number of penguins. After returning to the boat we traveled to Baimbridge Rocks where we were able to see a colony of bright pink flamingos – we could only view them from the top deck of the boat, and they were pretty far away, but still it was neat to see where they live.

Each evening we have a briefing before dinner at which the next day’s activities are discussed and we are told what kind of excursions we will have (hiking, snorkeling, etc.). Tonight Ivan reviewed all of the fishes that we have been seeing while snorkeling.

Off to snorkle
Off to snorkle

This evening we move to a bay off Bartolome Island where we anchor for the night. Ah…no rocking tonight!

Photos by Chet and Cindy Janssens

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