Galápagos Islands: Part 4

Day 8 Friday: South Plaza and Santa Cruz

The vegetation on South Plaza is quite different. The salt-grass forms a very colourful carpet that is dotted with prickly pear cactus.

South Plaza Island (Plaza Sur) – It is named in honor of a former president of Ecuador, General Leonidas Plaza. It has an area of 0.13 square km (0.05 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 23 m (75 ft). The flora of South Plaza includes Opuntia cactus and Sesuvium plants, which form a reddish carpet on top of the lava formations. Iguanas (land, marine and some hybrids of both species) are abundant, and large numbers of birds can be observed from the cliffs at the southern part of the island, including tropic birds and swallow-tailed gulls.

Wikipedia

There are sea lions, and every now and then, you come across an area of stone that looks almost like a mosaic. They are resting areas where the sea lions have pooped and polished the lava stones for years.

The afternoon saw the first of three excursions to Santa Cruz. This one was to Cerro Dragón to see flamingos, other wading birds and the ubiquitous marine iguana.

 Santa Cruz (Indefatigable) Island (Galápagos) – Given the name of the Holy Cross in Spanish, its English name derives from the British vessel HMS Indefatigable. It has an area of 986 square km (381 sq mi) and a maximum altitude of 864 m (2834 ft). Santa Cruz hosts the largest human population in the archipelago, the town of Puerto Ayora. The Charles Darwin Research Station and the headquarters of the Galápagos National Park Service are located here. The GNPS and CDRS operate a tortoise breeding centre here, where young tortoises are hatched, reared, and prepared to be reintroduced to their natural habitat. The Highlands of Santa Cruz offer exuberant flora, and are famous for the lava tunnels. Large tortoise populations are found here. Black Turtle Cove is a site surrounded by mangroves, which sea turtles, rays and small sharks sometimes use as a mating area. Cerro Dragón, known for its flamingo lagoon, is also located here, and along the trail one may see land iguanas foraging.

Other photos are here.

Galápagos Part 1  Galápagos Part 2 Galápagos Part 3

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