Floreana Island or Santa Maria
AM: Cormorant Point
This island has a long history of visits by humans - being a favorite spot for pirates, whalers and early settlers. Today we would have our own two visits on this island. The first one being Cormorant Point, which offers the visit of two very different beaches. We get dropped off via a wet landing on the greenish brown beach of volcanic origin. (Presence of silicates or magnesium and iron helped created the olivine crystals found on the beach causing the green tint in the sand). From here we followed a trail across the island to the "Flour" Beach, made of very fine white sand. The sand was created by the erosion of coral skeletons and made the beach the perfect nesting site for the green sea turtles. The trail leads to a lagoon that is home to the pink Galapagos flamingos. We stopped at a view point on the top of a hill with great views of the lagoon. From up here we can see lines of darker mud wiggling through the waters. If you observe the flamingos for a little while you will notice that these lines are footsteps trails left by the flamingos as they walk with their head in the water through the lagoon, searching for food. It almost looks like a piece of art. We walked on, shortly arriving at the white sand beach. Since it isn't the right season we do not have to fear on impeding on any green sea turtle trying to lay its eggs. As we arrive we see people looking out into the water, it turns out they are watching young rays playing in the waves (and hiding in the shallow waters from predators). Victor warns us not to go too deeply into the water as they sometimes sting.
Immediately after we return to the boat we get changed into our wet suits and go snorkeling at a spot called Devil's Crown. Even Alex is with us and we see together our first 6-7 foot shark swimming in the water. Soon after, we found a green sea turtle hanging out on the floor 25 feet below us. A deep breath and some strong kicks with the fins allowed me to go visit her for a little while. Like most Galapagos animals, she didn't seem to mind the company. Close to the end of the excursion (we had circum-navigated the entire Devil's Crown) the crew member with us pointed out a rock under which four sharks where laying next to each other. It was an amazing site, but the cold water drove us out of the water and into the showers. The Guantanamera relocated us to Post Office Bay.
PM: Post Office Bay
Things to see:
This is among the few spots, that is visited for its human history. Whaling captain James Colnett set up a wooden post barrel sometime in 1793. During this period the whaling industry was at its peak and many ships were traveling for 2 years or more before returning to home port. The Galapagos Islands were an ideal stop to replenish supplies (to the detriment of some endemic species) and water. The rules of the barrel was simple: Outbound ships would drop off letters after rounding the Cape and the ships returning home would mail them upon arrival at home.
This tradition has continued over the years, allowing visitors to drop-off and pick-up letters, making sure that anything left would eventually find its destination no matter how far away. Some of our fellow passengers left a post card, as an experiment, addressed to themselves to see how long it would take. We never found out if it actually ever made it. While some of us went snorkeling, I watched the crew members of several boats anchored in the bay play a match of high energy soccer. No surprise here, most of them spent 7 days a week on a boat, often never leaving it.
Today was one of the few days where we had a longer (5 hour) boat trip during the day. We were heading back to as much civilisation as the Galapagos had to offer. The Island of Santa Cruz and it’s famous Academy Bay. Upon arrival we had dinner and celebrated Lori’s 29th birthday. The crew's chef had mad a surprise birthday cake, which was enjoyed by all of us. After that the dinghy would take us to town for a visit to the internet café, some strolling of the streets and drinks.