Blue Boobies, Volcanoes and Crossing the Equator

Trip Start Oct 07, 2005
Trip End Oct 12, 2005

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Monday, October 10, 2005

At 6:30am the captain awakens us with his soothing voice for our wake-up call. I almost felt like I had to go to work until I realize we are on a ship. Today was the day we were to finally see the Blue Footed Boobies. They look so pretty in pictures I have seen. After breakfast, we sat in the lounge waiting for our group of Frigates to be called. Our guide for the morning excursion to FERNANDINA was Delilah. We had a dry landing and walked on PUNTA ESPINOSA that has a lava field. Fernandina is the youngest and most western of the islands and has 5 volcanoes with one being the most active volcano of the Galapagos called La Cumbre, which is in the center of the island. After landing, we walked through a mangrove forest. The trail today was considered "moderate". This has the largest colony of marine iguanas which were everywhere and seemed to be sunning themselves while a few were clinging onto the black rocks. There was even a long row of them facing the same direction.

You had to be really careful of not stepping on one like I almost did again! They eat algae and seaweed and only moved to go in the water. We made numerous stops on this island with one being at the white, bone remains of a whale. Klaus took a picture of our group behind them. At a later stop, were more sea lions, including a baby pup which looked lost. Delilah said the mother was out getting food but the pup looked like it was trying to latch on to another family of a mother and her pup. That mother was not happy with the lost pup and kept barking at it. Poor little thing! Hopefully the guide was right and the mother returned. There was also some Flightless Cormorants, including a family with a couple babies. So cute they were! Also in this area we saw a Mockingbird, two Lava Herons, Finch, Pelicans and Sally Light foot Crabs. 

The landscape here was diverse with the black volcanic rock formations, some green vegetation, the blue waters, and the island of Isabela in the not so far distance and of course the wildlife. Our guide told us that Isabela has 6 volcanoes! We walked around more of the island and she showed us clusters of Galapagos Lava Cactus. I won't say what they reminded me of, but you can take a wild guess from the pictures! The spines are yellow when young and they darken with age and only live a few years. At the end of our hike, we saw a Galapagos Hawk in the tree, then back to the dinghy boat for the 2nd part of our morning excursion. We stayed on the dinghy for about an hour as the driver took us past parts of Isabela. First up was a penguin with 3 Sally Light-foot Crabs. The next area had about a half dozen black Flightless Cormorants. The cormorants have webbed feet and their wings are 1/3 the size of what's required for them to fly. We saw a couple of them diving in the water for food. They feed no more than 100m offshore and at the bottom of the sea floor on eel, small octopus, fish and squid.

To my surprise, we approached black rocks that had about a dozen Blue Footed Boobies on it! I finally got to see these pretty birds with their blue feet. We got to see a few of them dive and it is an awesome site. They power dive with their beak down in the water very fast for food. They are the smallest of the 3 Boobies. I took many pictures of them. While we were checking out the boobies, there was a shadow in the water which turned out to be a sea turtle. Our morning excursion was done as we went back to the ship and got our feet washed before we stepped inside. We got this done after every excursion, upon boarding the boat; a man would hose our feet off since they were contaminated. After lunch, Some of the people went snorkeling but we didn't since they were jumping right off the dinghy boat! Bernie and Brenda took a "siesta" and since I have a hard time napping I went out on deck. Wow, we were docked near huge, brown cliffs which was Isabela Island. Our ship seemed so small next to this. The water was calm and a greenish- blue color and I saw a turtle sticking its head out. To the left was a partially flooded cave.

Around 4pm we went for our evening excursion which consisted of a dinghy ride for a couple of hours and again we had a different guide, but I can't remember his name. We went around the western area of Isabela which was formed by 5 independent volcanoes that came together. It is also the largest of the islands and has the highest volcano at 1.707 meters named Volcan Wolf. The dinghy took us to Punta Vicente Roca, an area with coves and a sheltered bay, on the edge of Ecuador Volcano. We saw fur seals and more Blue Footed Boobies on the 400-500 foot cliffs and even went into that flooded cave. One of the other groups were near us and were looking at something. We think it was a penguin because it came near our boat and I got a couple pictures. We also saw a couple Masked Boobies on top of a cliff. The Masked one's are the largest of the booby family and have a wing span of 5-6 feet. The ones we saw had orange beaks with black faces.

Back on the ship after our boat ride, we got ready for the "Crossing the Equator Party" which we crossed north. This took place on deck with some members (4 or 5) of our tour group dressed as Pirates. They went around and "captured" people, one being our new Japanese friend, Suki. The captured people had to drink blood from the Frigate bird! It was a fun time and we got free drinks. One minor issue with me was my right pupil was dilated and very sensitive to light! I couldn't figure out for the life of me why. We came to the conclusion that when changing my Transderm-Scop (Scopolamine) Patch, I must have forgot to wash my hands and then touched my eye. This is a side effect.
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