Category Archives: Ecuador

Galapagos, Day 5


Galapagos: South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands


Today was filled with birds, iguanas, small islands, and more birds. We had an early morning dry landing on South Plaza Island and walked a loop around the small islands’s perimeter. South Plasa is a small flat island covered with a coral/red succulent plant, numerous land iguana, swallow tail gulls, frigate birds, and sea lions. The far side of the islands is a rocky cliff which slops down to the water on the near side. Hundreds of birds were nesting, perched in the cliffs, or flying about below or around us. The contrast between yesterday’s excursion to the town and people contrasted dramatically with today’s small uninhabited island, making to day special. Busses, noise,, and tortoises yesterday, zodiacs, quiet, and wildlife today. The contrast was not lost on us.

During lunch we left South Plaza for Santa Fe Island. Santa Fe was a wet landing and a walk on a broken lava and sand trail.

Here are a few photos taken on South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands.

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A Sea Lion Pup

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A Landing Swallow Tail Gull

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Island Cacti

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Ellen and Some of our Group

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Island Vegetation

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Frigate Birds in Flight

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A Nasca Booby Taking Flight

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The Sea Lion Yawn

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A Land Iguana


One Talkative Swallow Tailed Gull


A Lava Lizard and Land Iguana


A Sea Lion Pup


Sally Lightfoot Crabs are Quite Colorful


Iguanas Look Prehistoric, Here is a Land Iguana


Swallow Tailed Gulls are Graceful in Flight


A Flock of Frigate Birds Followed the Islander


Some Took the Easy Way


A Flowering Cactus, the Islander in the Distance


The Galapagos Dove


The Galapagos Ellen, a Rare Bird


Sea Lions and the Islander






South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands
Apr 14, 2016 – National Geographic Islander

We continue our expedition in the magical Galapagos archipelago exploring two beautiful hidden small treasures, South Plaza and Santa Fe Islands.

We disembarked at South Plaza Island very early this morning. This small island, which is in fact just some few hundred yards long, was once part of the ocean floor. It is the product of a volcanic uplifting. The amount of wildlife found in this paradise is overwhelming. In addition, the marine landscape is as beautiful and striking as its inhabitants. Huge cacti were surrounded by a carpet of red vegetation where colorful Galapagos land iguanas were seen everywhere making it look like a real life painting.

Further inland there is a spectacular cliff side where many sea bird species can be observed either flying around or resting. Once we arrived to the highest point to walk along the cliff, we found the best site to watch sea birds in action. Galapagos shearwaters were skimming the ocean surface looking for food while Nazca boobies were gliding along the cliffs. Beautiful Swallow tailed gulls were seen either flying around or taking care of their hungry white youngsters

After this magical morning visit we went back to the ship to join a presentation. Naturalist Jonathan Aguas talked about the Human History of the Galapagos Islands.

After lunch we headed to Santa Fe Island. In this location there are remarkable sceneries where volcanic cliffs are covered with giant prickly pear cacti. Some guests opted to go kayaking while others went snorkeling. Waters were relatively calm today and many colorful reef fish species were seen, including many rays, Galapagos sea lions, some sea turtles and some sharks.

Once everyone was back onboard we put on our walking gear to explore Santa Fe Island. The landing beach is home to a Galapagos sea lion colony. The rocky inland trail led us to encounter a couple of pale brownish green land iguanas, the famous Santa Fe land iguana (Conolophus pallidus). This latter species, as its name implies, is only found on this small island and nowhere else in the Galapagos! It is not only endemic to the Galapagos, but just on this island.

After recaps and dinner we had a star gazing session on the top deck. A clean sky gave us the opportunity to observe an impressive celestial starry night right on the equator.

Once we were all in bed, I’m sure we all could not help but think about the various feelings and memories that this day brought us, so strong that will remain in our hearts and minds forever.


About the Author


Carlos Romero·Expedition Leader
Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.

Galapagos, Day 3

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.

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Two Turtle Nests and Tracks

As with most of our landings, our party was the only group on the beach.

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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.


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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.

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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”.

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Carlos explaining the history of Floreana’s Post Office Barrel


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Carlos “stamping” a letter for Ellen

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Do We Have to Go?


The end of a magical day



National Geographic, Lindblad Expedition Daily Trip Report
Floreana Island
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!