A day of birding and snorkeling the coldest, richest waters in the Galapagos.
I’ve been slowly posting photos from the WINGS Galapagos cruise aboard the Integrity this past November to my own Birdernaturalist Blog but decided move the topic over here.
Everything is so easy to photograph here, even with my little Canon PowerShot point-and-shoot, and we had really good light today. This is already Day 4, and I still captured hundreds of images, despite having way too many to sort through from the first three days. After cruising on calm seas all night, we awoke approaching the westernmost island, Fernandina.
Every cruise in the Galapagos features a morning excursion and an afternoon activity. Our morning was taken up by an interesting hike on the relatively recent lava flows and out to Punta Espinosa. The low areas in the lava flow are right at sea level, and mangroves have colonized them.
The star attraction here is the Flightless Cormorant. In 2012 the Galapagos National Park is instituting new rules that won’t allow boats to visit any one island more than once every two weeks. As it is now, each boat has a set week-long itinerary, and a few such as the Integrity, have one that visits all the best birding islands. So starting in 2012, one will have to choose between seeing the Flightless Cormorant and Galapagos Penguins or nesting colonies of boobies, frigatebirds, and albatrosses.
We first snorkeled below the imposing cliffs of Punta Vicente Roca. The water was cold but tolerable, and the number of fish was fantastic. We were treated to a “fly-by” of a huge school of Black Skipjacks that surrounded us suddenly and just as quickly were gone.
The Integrity is one of the nicest – if not THE nicest – yachts catering to small groups (16 is the maximum). Here we are on the sun deck, enjoying a champagne cocktail celebration as we cross to the north side of the Equator.
Photo at top: Galapagos Oystercatcher, Haematopus palliatus galapagensis by Rich Hoyer
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