Galapagos Diaries - Day 4 - Floreana

Posted by Crooked Compass

Awakened by hundreds of dolphins dancing
Awakened by hundreds of dolphins dancing

There seemed to be a lot more splashing than normal as I awoke this morning. The boat wasn’t rough, but the sound of slapping waves seemed more prevalent than usual. I whipped back the curtains and was greeted with a pod of close to what we think were 200 dolphins dancing alongside the ship. Dipping, diving, splashing and playing, they were stunning and so gracefully elegant.

Flamboyance of flamingos
Flamboyance of flamingos

Not a moment later when they were out of site, did a flamboyance of flamingos flap overhead in  spectacular formation. So vivid in the morning light, it was like someone grabbed a pink highlighter and splashed it across the sky.

Mating season is upon us
Mating season is upon us

It was time to head ashore to Punta Cormorant on Floreana Island - rich in human history with mystery and intrigue. Although nowhere near as populated with wildlife as Espanola, this unique island, greeted us with a green sand beach alive with sea lions, lava herons, yellow crowned night herons and blue footed boobies perched precariously on the cliff faces. As we putted our way closer to the lapping shoreline we witnessed sea turtles mating in the clear waters. How they stayed afloat with all that weight, I do not know.

Greater flamingos in the distance
Greater flamingos in the distance

We followed a flat trail to a brackish lagoon, home of the Bahama Ducks, Common Stilts, Galapagos Fly Catcher, Yellow Warblers and in the distance on the far shoreline, were the Greater Flamingos. Quite possibly the same ones that had flown overhead earlier. These flamingos are the pinkest in the world and obtain their vibrant colour from feasting on the shrimp which eat the algae in the lagoon. The flamingos cannot simply eat the algae directly as they do not have the ability to digest it, so by eating the shrimp they get both their nutrients of the algae and their stunning colour.

Nesting beach for turtles
Nesting beach for turtles

We wound our way along the twisting path past many fauna species such as the black, red and white mangroves, the aromatic incense tree and Scalesia.

Turtle nests
Turtle nests

The trails led us to a beach with powder soft sand and at the rear of the beach, were dozens of sea turtle nests. Open burrows tunnelled into the sand. In the waters before us, there were at least 30-40 giant sea turtles mating, swimming or slowly making their way towards the shore to reach their nests. Small rays flapped on the sandy shore in the shallow waters, but our focus was on the majestic sea turtles.

Coming in to lay their eggs
Coming in to lay their eggs

We were patient but of course did not have all the time in the world to wait. Slowly but surely, one sea turtle made its way to the edge of the lapping waters. Then another, and then another. To a passer-by, they would have simply looked like large boulders in the shallow water because they moved so damn slow.

Slowly does it
Slowly does it

We sat. We watched. We waited. Then one made the move. Dragging her heavy body one slow step at a time, she unhurriedly made her way from the waters towards the dry sand. Unfortunately we could not stay to see the whole spectacle as it would have taken hours, but it was amazing to see such a large turtle pulling her bulky weight up the sinking sand, the waves bashing against her shiny shell, urging her back into deeper waters.

As we made our way back to our pangas, a teenage sea lion chased me up the beach and nipped at my ankle, missing me by only centimetres.

From here, we made our way to Champion, a shallow sunken crater colonized by a brilliant array of colourful fish and coral. The visibility here was amazing. 20-30m at least and the colours were spectacular. Large schools of yellow tailed surgeons flitted by, oversized parrot fish, beautiful king angels, puffer fish and other colourful varieties of marine life presented themselves on show for us.

 

 

Snorkelling the clear waters of the Galapagos
Snorkelling the clear waters of the Galapagos

Galapagos Penguin
Galapagos Penguin

Dramatic scenery at Baroness Point
Dramatic scenery at Baroness Point

That water!
That water!

Boobies and sea lions hanging out together
Boobies and sea lions hanging out together

On the way back to the ship, we witnessed five Galapagos Penguins frolicking in the waters. Such cuties. One jumped onto the side of one of the pangas, while another one pecked at the rope. Curious, playful little creatures.Following lunch, we took a panga ride through some absolutely stunning scenery near Baroness Point. Turquoise waters, black chunky lava flowing into the sea, green cacti, sea lions, contrasting Sally Lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas, blue footed boobies, Galapagos penguins, at least 20 sea turtles bobbing up and down in the water, not to mention the white tip reef sharks who all made themselves present for perfect photo opportunities. This area, as we cruised around for an hour or so and some people kayaked, so far to me has been the most stunning area we have visited. Pure paradise. The water, like Bombay Sapphire.

A marine iguana strolls the beach
A marine iguana strolls the beach

From here we went to Post Office Bay, not the most scenic of places, but one of the most famous sites in the Galapagos where a post barrel was erected and put into use in the late 18th century by English whaling vessels.

Post box at Post Office Bay
Post box at Post Office Bay

We all left a post card here and collected other post cards left by other travellers which are to be hand delivered. We have collected two which we will be delivering this week.

Searching for the postcards we can hand deliver
Searching for the postcards we can hand deliver

We also swam from the beach further around the point in a choppy bay. Not the clearest of waters compared to the azure waters we had just explored. It was actually like swimming through miso soup. Murky, brown and not inviting, but the great thing was, we were swimming alongside giant sea turtles. One of them was an absolute monster. His head, probably bigger than ours!

Mega turtle swimming through the murkey, 'miso soup' like water
Mega turtle swimming through the murkey, 'miso soup' like water

It was difficult to track them through the miso soup, but we managed and snapped a few half descent pictures.

Back on board the ship and at sunset, the perfect cliché occurred. I mentioned that this morning we were awoken by hundreds of dolphins, well our day ended with thousands of them. Baby dolphins in training by their parents. I have never seen anything like it. They surrounded the ship and it was dolphins as far as the eye could see. The orange sun was setting on the horizon and the dolphins kept following our ship and dancing - leading the way for us. The captain would toot the horn and in response, the dolphins would all leap out of the water.

Simply spectacular!

Crooked Compass travelled with Ecoventura on board MY Eric.

Even more dolphins!
Even more dolphins!

 

Looking for more Animal Encounters or Natural Phenomena to include in your travels? Download and search the Crooked Compass Travel App for inspiration or join our next Galapagos Expedition!