This morning, we entered the caldera of Genovesa Island. The morning started with a hike, where some guests went to Prince Philip’s Steps, and the other half went to the beach. On our Zodiac ride to the steps, we saw some playful fur sea lions saying hello in the water. On the beach, the sea lions were enjoying some much-needed rest in the sun.
Today, we got up close and personal with red-footed boobies, which are the only boobies to nest in trees as opposed to on the ground. Red-footed boobies can be found closer to the ocean, and they use the nests to conserve energy and take off easier. Unlike other boobies, the red-footed booby only lays one egg at a time, and they mate for life. While one partner is hunting for food or nest materials, the other watches the egg/baby bird and makes repairs to the nest, which the birds always come back to. We saw both the brown and the rarer white red-footed boobies.
On our hike, we were also lucky to see a yellow warbler finch, Galapagos doves, frigates, and even some short-eared owls. A swallow-tailed gull made an appearance right off the bat by nesting on the steps. They are the only nocturnal gulls, and they have red circles around their eyes.
Next up, guests were able to go kayaking or deep-water snorkeling. Along with many of the same fish that we saw on previous journeys, we saw plenty of angelfish and some giant damselfish babies, which were a beautiful blue color. We also discovered the pyramid sea star.
After a wonderful Galapagueño lunch, guests were offered another round of kayaking and paddleboarding, followed by a hike to either the beach or to Prince Philip’s Steps again. The beach was a wonderful place to see different types of finches, such as the sharp-beaked ground finch and the Genovesa large cactus finch. On the beach, it was great to see so many birds nesting and eggs being cared for by their parents. We were able to observe as the birds collected materials for nesting and as they traded places with their partners.
Photos and text by: Jessica Radek, Grosvenor Teacher Fellow; Fay Gore, National Geographic Society; Jorge Pacheco, Grosvenor Teacher Fellow; Derek Ratchford, Grosvenor Teacher Fellow