Galapagos day 2, Santa Fe and South plaza islands

Wake up call is at 07:00, which sounded really early in our exhaustion last night, but I was up much earlier, annoying Matt by opening the window shade to look outside. We had an amazing breakfast buffet then at 08:15 the group that had chosen the “long difficult” hike were called to disembark.

It was another wet landing, so here we are getting our shoes on at the beach where we began our hike.

The very first thing we saw was one small cove over, where a colony of sea lions were sporting around on the sand.

Then we hiked up a very steep and crumbly trail. At the top there were many large land iguanas and prickly pear cacti. My massive zoom lens came in really handy, but since most of the photos look much the same, I’ll just treat you to this guy.

The total hike was around 2 hours, but it was a scorcher of a morning, and we were all sweating buckets. Here we are heading back down from the top.

We walked back across the sea lion beach, but these guys weren’t sporting around anymore. It was way too hot for that!

After we returned to the Santa Cruz, we had about 15 minutes to reapply sunscreen and put on bathing suits and, if desired, wetsuits, before going out to snorkel for an hour.

I don’t have any pictures of snorkeling because I don’t have an underwater camera, but it was brilliant. When I flipped backward off the boat I pretty much fell straight in to a small group of big flat colorful fish. We saw a lot of them during our time underwater. They were looking at me like, “Excuse me, but we were having a nice chat here. That was quite rude!”

We saw lots of fish. We saw two rays. I can’t remember the type they were. There was a blue fish that had bright blue spots along its crest that looked like LED lights. A massive sea lion startled me by swimming right underneath me while I was looking at another fish. I chased a sea turtle for a while, at a slight distance.

Near the end, I was lagging behind our group a bit when I looked ahead and saw a river of those same big flat colorful fish swimming right at me. They were so many and densely packed that I couldn’t see anything but them. They swerved at the last moment to avoid me, then I rejoined the group just as another smaller but similar school of fish did the same thing again.

Altogether, it was brilliant. I got a sun burn on the upper back of my thighs, but I’d carefully covered that area with sunscreen, so I think it was just time in the water.

And then it was lunchtime, which was SO delicious, even better then yesterday. We stuffed ourselves, again, and wished we had space for more.

After lunch, thank goodness, there was a break of about 2 hours. I’m pretty sure everyone napped. When the announcement came that we had 15 minutes to be ready to disembark for our next hike, I was pretty groggy, but it was an easy walk and slightly cooler.

This afternoon walk was on South Plaza Island. It was an animal-viewing walk, and these little (and big) guys really love to pose. Here’s another land iguana.

And another one, blending in with the local succulents.

These guys aren’t local, but they’re getting more acclimatized.

We watched a group of 5 eagle rays off shore.

Another land iguana, looking majestic. He was huge.

And here’s a smaller aquatic iguana, and his little sunning buddy the lava lizard, under a prickly pear.

I have about a million pictures of this and one other blue-footed booby, but I like the one because it turned to check me out too.

This land iguana is decked out for a dance night, flowers in her scales.

Aquatic iguana: “What you talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

Another imported species, sunning himself and trying to attract his mate with his not-so-colorful plumage.

His local counterpart. Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s a female. Those white rocks were very shiny from the fatty oils the skin of sea lions secretes, as they travel back and forth across them.

The youngest sea lion we saw was about a week old, although we saw quite a few in the 3 week range. We also saw one of about 3 years nursing, which was cute.

And then we went back to the ship, where we showered then had happy hour cocktails up on the deck before a scrumptious dinner.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Galapagos, Ecuador

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