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We started early this morning, to climb Bartolome, a small island near the northeast side of Santiago. This is the most visited island in Galapagos, though the only reason for that is Pinnacle Rock, a tall rock formation on one side. It's the rock they use in all the publicity photos for Galapagos. They also build a boardwalk of 388 steps going to the top. But the island is the most desolate we visited. It's early in the stages of colonization, with only primary colonizers. The largest animal on the island is the lava lizard. So there was very little shade, and it was very hot. But it was good to get to the top and have a view down.
On the rocks around the island, Carlos scouted and found some penguins. They were so cute! They're about 18 inches tall, the second-smallest penguins in the world. Mostly they just stood there, but occasionally one would waddle a couple of steps or hop to the next rock, and that was adorable. Finally, they dove into the water and swam away.
It felt like we had been awake forever by 10 am when we went for our last snorkel. This was a good one: we saw penguins swimming, a sea lion, some rays, a shark, lots of sea stars, and of course plenty of fish. A couple of people in our group took underwater photos and we collected emails later in the day so hopefully I'll be able to link to some of those, eventually.
After lunch we scooted over to Santa Cruz, the northwest shore, adjacent to Bachas Beach where we went the first day. This time, we took a panga ride into a mangrove cove called Black Turtle Cove. Carlos explained that this is where female sea tutees hang out to rest. During mating, the females have to do the work of swimming and getting to the surface to breathe; the males just hold on for the ride. Then after a few days rest, the females have to go dig a nest and lay their eggs, which is also exhausting. So we crept around the cove with the panga motors off, and found some sea turtles. I didn't get any pictures though. And we found a lot more mosquitos than sea turtles, so I was anxious to get out of there.
Also, I had octopus for dinner. It was purple. It was also pretty good. During dinner I talked to another passenger, who works for the NIH, about government science jobs. She said they really need people with a technical background to guide policy and other affairs, and encouraged me to apply for the AAAS policy fellowship. Maybe if I get tired of editing. After dinner we watched some sharks and a sea lion fishing next to the boat. They were Galapagos sharks, and sometimes they'd come up out of the water to catch the fish. And sometimes the fish would jump out of the water and skim like a skipping stone.
It was a great trip, but I'm ready to leave. I'm almost out of sunblock, my clothes are either wet (hanging to dry) or dirty, I have more mosquito bites than I care to count, and I'm pretty sure my sun allergy rash is covering my arms, neck, and ears. But it's hard to tell because of the mosquito bites. So it'll be good to get back to civilization. But I was thinking today that with this trip under my belt, I feel more confident and interested in doing more of this kind of travel (educational/guided/yacht). Like there are cruises to Antarctica that would also include penguins, but not mosquitos or sunburn. So that might be nice. Right now just about anything that doesn't include mosquitos or sunburn sounds nice. We'll see how Machu Picchu goes.
Click here for the whole day's album.
See vacation summary (with links to each day).