Galapagos (6) – Cruise (2) – Isabela Island

Friday 15/06

Breakfast at 7am. We wake up with the bell announcing it.

The night was surprisingly quite good.

We take the small boat (panga) to go and explore Punta Moreno, on Isabella Island (the island with a seahorse shape).

We first go along the coast, with the panga. We see many marine iguanas warming up their bodies on the rocks. We see also sea lions, flightless cormorants, blue-footed boobies, and a penguin “oiling” his body.

I feel blessed and privileged to be able to discover these wonders in such an “exclusive” way.

Galapagos is a living laboratory of evolution. Plants and wildlife that have reached these archipelagos had to survive in complete isolation and had to adapt to new and harsh conditions and ecological niches. Species that survived evolved completely independently into countless new species and subspecies that live in no other place of the world, and show very unusual behaviour. To name just a few of these endemic species: giant cacti, marine iguanas that forage under sea level, flightless cormorants that cannot fly any more. Differences between the different kinds of mocking birds and also giant tortoises shells from different island put Charles Darwin on track of his revolutionary theory of ‘Evolution by means of natural selection’.

Upon that time, the traditional interpretation of the biblical story of creation was commonly accepted. However, confronted with the existence of distinct species that seemed to have originated from a common ancestor, Darwin had to question divine origin. His hypothesis was this: the world that we know was not created in one instant, but rather evolved through natural selection, from something infinitely primitive and is still changing.

We then go and walk on the island. It’s one of the most recent lava. The guide explains very well. We also see the cactus that is the first vegetation on the volcanic rock. How did it happen? The original panorama of the islands were rugged, steaming rocks, remote and isolated, devoid of all signs of life. Later, perhaps after millions of years, seeds so light that they could be carried by the wind, felt into a crevice with sufficient humidity and germinated. Such could have been the magical beginning of terrestrial life in Galapagos. Pioneer species, capable of living almost without water, such as lichens and cactus, paved the way for the hundreds of unique plants and animals that today inhabit the islands.

We see flamingoes.

We go back to the boat to put our snorkeling gear (including a wet suit).

Great snorkeling. Visibility is not that great (we are along the shore, hence the visibility is affected by the waves crashing against the rocks) but we see many nice fishes, including bumphead parrotfish, resembling a Napoleon fish “crossed” with a parrot fish. We see also big school of dark fish, which we can easily approach. Ludivine manages to spot a seahorse, which is usually quite difficult. We see at least 20 turtles, from very close.

The water is cold.

We go back to the boat. We take a warm shower and then it’s time for lunch.

We rest a bit (I sort out the pictures on my computer) while the boat is sailing.

Then we go again onshore, at Urvina Bay.

We see sharks when we land. We walk for about 2 hours. We see giant tortoises including one at the beginning of the path, on the path. We go to their usual nesting area where we see other ones. We also see land iguanas.

We come back to the boat. We stay on the deck to try to spot marine life. We see a few big manta rays.

Dinner at 7pm.

I continue sorting out the pictures (of Galapagos) until 11pm.


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