Today I am writing the last DER of the year 2022. It is our last day exploring the Galapagos after a week full of surprises, great experiences, unique moments, and amazing encounters with astonishing Galapagos wildlife. Genovesa Island is the frosting on the cake. This isolated place has a peculiar ecosystem with no hawks, no land iguanas, no giant tortoises, no lava lizards, no snakes, etc. Instead of these animals that are common on most of the islands we visited this week, here on Genovesa we find two endemic species of finches, a vast colony of red-footed boobies, tons of frigates, Nazca boobies, storm petrels, and a diurnal owl that has assumed the hawk’s role on this island.

Early in the morning, we visited Prince Philip’s Steps. We walked through a forest of incense trees and spotted lots of wildlife. The geology is interesting with pyroclastic material everywhere, which has formed hundreds of caves. These caves are ideal spots for nesting petrels, owls, and red-billed tropicbirds. We went paddleboarding and kayaking along the majestic ring of this very old crater, which is now a bay where ships anchor. We enjoyed snorkeling and swimming with mobulas, spotted rays, and hundreds of different types of fish. We had a great surprise when we spotted a big Galapagos shark and several hammerhead sharks. What an incredible experience with an amazing grand finale!

In the afternoon, we enjoyed more paddleboarding and kayaking, and we took a short walk along Darwin Beach. We observed some sea lions resting after they returned from fishing in the ocean. We spotted swallow-tailed gulls. With their pretty red feet and bright red rings around their eyes, they are considered one of the most beautiful gulls in the world. This very small visitors’ site is phenomenal. With every step, you see an animal.

On our way back to the ship, we stopped by a cliff to see a very small colony of fur sea lions, another species endemic to the Galapagos Islands. Due to their thick layer of fat, fur sea lions prefer crevices and colder places to rest, so it is not very common to see them.

To decorate our day, the sun painted the sky with orange colors as it sank way down to sleep. Happy New year! And happy exploring in 2023. Cheers!