Galapagos day 4, the last full day of our cruise

I can’t believe it’s almost over, this Galapagos tour. We have decided that, although we would love to stay aboard another 4 days and see the northern islands, we would also like to visit northern Ecuador. It was a difficult decision. On the other hand, we are looking forward to having our own schedule again, maybe not waking up quite so early.

Today we visited Espanola island, which is a great flat island, covered with large rocks, coarse cool white sandy beaches, shrubs, and lots of wildlife. The only thing we thought we might see but didn’t was a constrictor. A Galapagos constrictor, naturally.

Packed tight into the pangas, we arrived at a dry landing for our hike around the island.

However, once we landed, we saw that our way was blocked by sea lions sunning themselves, so we carefully picked our way around the rocks off the path, avoiding stepping on sea lions, crabs, marine iguanas, and lava lizards.

Both the iguanas and lizards were different here than on other islands. The iguanas were red and green-blue. Pretty cute.

The female lizards had red heads. Matt renamed them “tourist lizards,” explaining that they hadn’t used enough sunscreen and had gotten a burn. The male lava lizards were much larger than the females, and had coarser scales with red highlights.

Sea lions were everywhere. Each colony had a beach master who patrolled the beach, guarding the little ones from sharks and other predators while the mothers were out hunting fish. Unfortunately, this little one had been attacked by a shark anyway. We watched him scurry up the shore, calling out and flapping his flippers at the wound. Lorenzo, our guide, said that since his wounds were pretty superficial, he would no doubt survive just fine.

Boobies were everywhere. Go boobies! There are 3 types of boobies, the blue-footed, the red-footed, and the Nasca (sp?) boobies.

The Nasca boobies used to be called the masked boobies, but now they’re named after this landmass… I need to double-check my facts here.

We even saw a pair of hawks.

And, floating in the water past the blowhole, an albatross. Even with my big zoom, that’s the best I could do with it. At least they’re huge, so you can see it at all.

I think iguanas look like they have a great sense of humor. Kind of wise and amused.

And so certain that they are beautiful. Even if sometimes they remind me just a little of Gremlins, after they’ve been fed after midnight. No more friendly mogwai!

Here is a finch. This one is a warbler finch, and is one of many finch varieties on the islands, each adapted specifically for its ecological niche.

Enough nature and education! After lunch it was time to jump overboard! Matt and I each did it twice.

Finally, we went to another beach. This time we communed with the sea lions instead of keeping our distance.

I decided this one had the right idea. Some people were doing quite attractive poses with them, but I thought it was more fun to try out her position.

Sadly, snorkeling was a disappointment today. We took the panga out to the rocks across from the swimming beach, but the water was very active, we couldn’t see anything, and Roger needed to be rescued. He was drinking a lot of the sea! Fortunately, Suzanne saw his struggle and the panga went to get him.

We looked for a better place, but eventually gave up and just went playing in the surf. The sea lions thought we looked like good playmates, and 2 or 3 of them kept swimming through us.

I let the surf wash me to shore, then tumble me around over and over. It was really really fun, but then I had sand in everything. I hope I don’t get stopped at the airport for trying to export sand in my hair!

Everyone was really ready for our last dinner tonight, and we all drank a little too much, hanging around on deck until one by one, we sought our beds.

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Location:Galapagos, Ecuador