Galápagos Islands: Part 2

Day 4 Monday: Española

Every excursion during the week started with a trip on a Zodiac, which Gia, at first, found pretty scary, but she became more comfortable as the week went on. Wet landings were required about half the time, which meant sliding off the Zodiac into the water—knee-deep at most. Although I’d taken a fair amount of camera gear with me —two cameras and four lenses—it was clear that taking more than 1+1 for any trip wasn’t practical. So I mostly took my Olympus E-M1 with the Panasonic 35-100 zoom (with plastic bag for the Zodiac trips). On occasion, I swapped this for the Panasonic 100-300, which gave more reach, but isn’t such a good lens.

Excursions are for a maximum of 16 people, and each group is accompanied by a qualified naturalist from the National Park. The naturalists provide guidance and information, and make sure you don’t break any of the rules: no drinks (except water), no food (unless required for medical reasons), no litter, don’t go closer than 8ft to the animals (not always possible)—take only memories (and LOTS of photos), leave only footprints.

Looking back, the two excursions on Española were probably the most rewarding for the numbers of birds and animals we saw. This is what Wikipedia has to say:

Española (Hood) Island – its name was given in honor of Spain. It also is known as Hood, after Viscount Samuel Hood. It has an area of 60 square km (23 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 206 m (676 ft).

Española is the oldest island at around 3.5 million years, and the southernmost in the group. Due to its remote location, Española has a large number of endemic species. It has its own species of lava lizard, mockingbird, and tortoise. Española’s marine iguanas exhibit a distinctive red coloration change between the breeding season. Española is the only place where the Waved Albatross nests. Some of the birds have attempted to breed on Genovesa (Tower) Island, but unsuccessfully. Española’s steep cliffs serve as the perfect runways for these birds, which take off for their ocean feeding grounds near the mainland of Ecuador and Peru.

Española has two visitor sites. Gardner Bay is a swimming and snorkelling site, and offers a great beach. Punta Suarez has migrant, resident, and endemic wildlife, including brightly colored marine iguanas, Española lava lizards, Hood Mockingbirds, Swallow-tailed Gulls, blue-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Galápagos hawks, 3 species of Darwin’s finches, and the waved albatross.

We visited both the locations mentioned: Gardner Bay in the morning and Punta Suarez in the afternoon. It’s hard to describe how magical it is to walk around among so many birds and animals, most of which are entirely unconcerned by your presence. Despite the 8ft rule, sometimes the animals come to you; in which case, the naturalists’ advice is stay still except if it’s a bull sea lion coming your way when the advice is run.  Sea lion pups can be quite curious and will come close enough to snuffle your feet (no petting allowed).

I’ve been struggling to make a selection from all the shots, I took at Española, so I have cheated and posted 4 pages:

Española – 1Española – 2Española – 3Española – 4

Galápagos Part 1

Pages: 1 2

Comments

  1. beautiful photos 🙂 !!

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