Floreana Island, April 12 2016
Carlos’ cheery voice awoke us very early in the morning for a Zodiac ride, wet landing, and a walk to see flamingos (maybe) and turtle nesting. The turtle tracks are unmistakable and depression the turtles create are huge. We saw no turtles as they nest at night and hatchlings emerge from the nest at night.
Two Turtle Nests and Tracks
As with most of our landings, our party was the only group on the beach.
On the Trail with naturalist Jeffo and photographer Dexter
The walk to the lagoon and flamingos was short and interrupted as we walked past a Lava Heron in a tree literally four feet away. Like all willdlife in the Galapagos that we encountered far from the towns, this heron was unafraid of us and stood quite still for a photograph.
A Lava Heron perched on a tree very close to the trail
We were not disappointed at the lagoon. There was a number of flamingos feedin by kicking up algae and consuming it. The beta carotene in the algae and shrimp turn the flamingo’s gray feathers bright pink. The total population of flamingos on Floreana is about 250 indigenous. We also saw one Chilean flamingo which was white colored and a Chilean juvenile.
Flamingos in the distance
On our way back to the beach we encountered our first boobies, a male booby courting a female. Unfortunately the male was not successful as the female flew away. In the booby’s courting dance, the male lifts one foot and sways to the opposite side, sways back to the oher side and lifts the opposite foot. He does this a number of times. We did not observe the booby sky pointing this morning.
This fellow was unsuccessful
We have a video of the Blue Footed Booby Mating Dance. Unfortunately it is too large to post here without editing the file. Ii will post the video in our video library a bit later.
A Yellow Warbler
Back aboard ship, we were too late signing up for kayaking to go out today. Both the morning and evening reservations were booked.
After breakfast we disembarked by zodiac to explore Champion,, a small island off Floreana. This was our first view of wildlife from a zodiac. It was fun exploring the small island.
Our small group aboard a zodiac touring Champion
Paul and Jeanne near the bow on the lead zodiac
Swallow Tail Gull perched under an overhang
On our first sighting of a Galapagos Seal, we were informed that there are no seals in the galapagos. What we saw were sea lions! Sea Lions have small ears protruding on each side of their head. Seals have holes for ears. There are some fur seals on the islands, but we did not see any. They may be endemic to the west islands.
A Sea Lion perched high in the cliff
An Inquisitive Sea Lion Pup
A Nasca Booby looking for dinner
We had lunch with Paul and Jeanne and had a very interesting wide ranging discussion. Paull recommended “the beginning of infinity” by David Deutsch as an explanation of why things are as they are.
After the zodiac excursion we went snorkeling and saw numerous tropical fish, some in schools others singly or in pairs.
Ellen having a wonderful time
We have a small canon point and shoot camera with an underwater housing. The camera takes some very good photos and has white balance adjustment for underwater shots build in. Unfortunately, I failed to bring the camera on this snorkeling trip. This was the second time we forgot the camera in our excitement to get abord a zodiac and into the water. The photo above was shot a few days later.
Post office bay on Floreana is home to the oldest post office in the pacific. It was setup in 1793 by James Colnett, a British whaler. Seafarers would stop by Floreana to leave letters in a barrel and look through the letters already there. If a sailor was going to visit any of the places addressed on the letters, he would take the letter and deliver it. This tradition is carried out today. We left a few letters for friends and family and took a few letters with nearby addresses. It will be fun making new acquaintances from this “post office”.
Carlos explaining the history of Floreana’s Post Office Barrel
Carlos “stamping” a letter for Ellen
Do We Have to Go?
The end of a magical day
National Geographic, Lindblad Expedition Daily Trip Report
Apr 12, 2016 – National Geographic Islander
The southernmost island in the Galapagos is also well known for the occurrence of mysterious events of its early inhabitants. Just to mention one, a woman from Germany came to live here with three lovers, one of them was Ecuadorian and the other two came with her from Europe. One day she and one lover disappeared without trace and other inhabitants followed a similar path of tragedy.
Before breakfast we headed onto the beach for a short hike over a greenish-brown sandy beach comprised of olivine crystals. We also visited a brackish water lagoon with Greater flamingoes, noble inhabitants of this location usually joined by pintail ducks and black-necked stilts, among others.
The trail ends at a white coralline sandy beach where sea turtles nest throughout the year and where rays concentrate by the hundreds along the shore under the breaking waves. Sally light -foot crabs splash the dark lava with their colorful shells.
Back on board for breakfast we started to navigate to a small Island called Champion where we disembarked for a Zodiac ride in search of interesting wildlife such us sea lions, boobies, swallow tailed gulls, brown noddies, red billed tropic birds and others. We also searched for the elusive bird called the Chatham mockingbird which became extinct on the main island due to predation by introduced animals.
We came back on board to get ready for another exciting activity, snorkeling at one of the best destinations to do so, as large schools of fish are found, including parrot fish, king angel fish, invertebrates, echinoderms and more. We also enjoyed swimming with sea lions who entertained us throughout the session. It was a great morning!
Post office bay is another place on Floreana open to visitors. In addition to the interesting human history of the island, here one can also take and leave correspondence in the way whalers and others used to do centuries ago. No need for stamps.
We also enjoyed exploring by kayak because this place is alive with plenty of wildlife like, turtles, sea lions, marine iguanas, and birds. The landscape here is outstanding, too!