A Whale of a Tale (Galapagos - Day 3)

 

I've been waking up at 5:30 am this whole trip, so when Paula mentioned at the debriefing that whales tend to hang out around Fernandina in the morning it was pretty obvious where I was gonna be at dawn. Leigh and I as well as a handful of other guests and crew spent some time on the bow of the ship scanning for whale plumes on the horizon while we sipped on our morning coffee. We ended up seeing a few whales in the distance, but nothing too close... regardless, it was nice to see some other folks milling around in the wee hours!

After breakfast, our morning hike on Fernandina, one of the youngest islands in the archipeligo, was marked by huuuuge piles of marine iguanas along the ropy lava flows. There was more iguana than rock in some places, so coupled with the facts that they look remarkably similar to rocks and that they don't move when you approach, there was a real danger of stepping on them if you weren't careful. Which Leigh definitely didn't do if anyone asks. 

We were also treated by seeing some sea lion pups playing in a tide pool, flightless cormorants nesting, and a very determined pair of oystercatchers trying (and failing) to catch Sally Lightfoot crabs!

 

For the afternoon snorkeling trip to Punta Vicente Roca on Isabella Island, we were cautiously told we maaaaaay see sea turtles and that the water was a little chilly due to the Cromwell Current upwelling at the island. So Leigh and I layered yoga pants under our wetsuits (you do what you can) and threw ourselves into the cold water for the chance that we might maybe possibly see a sea turtle. 

We saw one sea turtle fairly quickly and were just stupid with excitement. Snorkeling success! And then we continued swimming for a few more seconds and saw another. And then another. And another. And another. And we basically saw a zillion sea turtles (± 4).

After we got back, we took a quick zydeco - I mean zodiac - ride around Punta Vicente Roca w/ Celso to get a closer look at the geology (Side note: I called the zodiacs 'zydecos' like 3 times in a row, so at this point I'm doing it just to annoy Leigh. Because I'm a good sister!). We also got our first Galapagos penguin sighting!

Ha.

Ha.

Tonight we crossed the equator, so we had a little celebration out on deck. When a guest asked how we'd know when we were crossing, Paula said you'd see a colorful line as we crossed. Uh huh, very funny, Paula. So when we started doing a countdown as we approached the equator and a colorful line actually did appear (being held by Jeffo and Paula), it was downright hilarious. We all took turns running underneath the 'equator' and were given cute little pins to mark the occasion!

Buenos Dias!

Buenos Dias!

Searching for whales!

Searching for whales!

Sally Lightfoot crabs

Sally Lightfoot crabs

Flightless Cormorant who's in denial about his flight status

Flightless Cormorant who's in denial about his flight status

Land iguana carcass 

Land iguana carcass 

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus)

Ropes of cooled lava

Ropes of cooled lava

Baby sea lions :)

Baby sea lions :)

Gilda with a sea lion skull

Gilda with a sea lion skull

Sally Lightfoot crabs (Grapsus grapsus)

Sally Lightfoot crabs (Grapsus grapsus)

Pile o' marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)

Pile o' marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)

Juvenile whale bones... I'm realizing now there were TONS of reminants of dead things on Fernandina

Juvenile whale bones... I'm realizing now there were TONS of reminants of dead things on Fernandina

What's so funny?

What's so funny?

See?!?! Sea turtles!  - Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

See?!?! Sea turtles!  - Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Javier, Celso, and Caitlin

Javier, Celso, and Caitlin

Lava dike

Lava dike

Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)

Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus)

Golden Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera steindachneri)

Golden Cownose Rays (Rhinoptera steindachneri)