Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring Santiago Island, located in the central region of the Galapagos archipelago. We kicked the day off with a pre-breakfast beach walk on Espumilla Beach. It was spectacular. Guests enjoyed a beautiful rainbow that perfectly framed the beach from arch to arch. A particularly rare sighting occurred when a female Pacific green sea turtle made her way from her freshly dug nest back to the ocean. Guests watched in awe as this beautiful creature slowly returned to sea after such an arduous task.
After the pre-breakfast walk, we navigated to Buccaneer Cove. Guests had the opportunity to participate in a variety of excursions including: snorkeling, glass-bottom boating, kayaking and Zodiac cruising–there was something for everyone! This area exhibits some very interesting geological formations and a variety of marine wildlife. We observed large schools of Pacific creole fish, yellow striped snapper and barberfish. Some guests spotted a hawksbill sea turtle, a very rare finding indeed.
After lunch, expedition leader Emma Ridley held a lecture about Charles Darwin. In the afternoon, we navigated to Puerto Egas for swimming and hiking excursions. Puerto Egas is a very interesting site with a lot to offer: human history, endemic vegetation, endemic marine life and recently repatriated Galapagos land iguanas. Several attempts at human settlement took place in this area over the decades, including Ecuadorian salt miners.
The introduction of goats and pigs to Santiago Island decimated the vegetative landscape and, subsequently, the giant tortoise populations. Lindblad Expeditions adopted the island and contributed to important efforts to eradicate the introduced species. Today, Santiago Island is free of invasive goats and pigs. The giant tortoise populations are recuperating as such. Given that introduced species are no longer a threat to endemic wildlife, the Galapagos National Park repatriated hundreds of Galapagos land iguanas to the site, where they had once been extant; it is such a joy for us to see them at this visitors’ site today.
In the evening, guests enjoyed a delicious BBQ dinner on the sky deck followed by musical entertainment from our talented captain.