Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring San Cristóbal Island. We kicked the day off with a hike at Punta Pitt. This was our first opportunity to see the red-footed booby. There are only two islands in the Galapagos where the red-footed booby colonizes: Genovesa and San Cristóbal Islands.
The red-footed booby is quite particular about the environmental conditions they prefer to inhabit; they have colonized the two islands where the Galapagos hawk is absent. This is advantageous to a wary parent that must leave behind hatchlings to hunt far offshore. They also choose to inhabit areas where the shelf of the island is steep; this reduces the travel time for such an offshore hunter.
The blue-footed booby is the most commonly sighted booby species in the Galapagos. They are the most coastal foraging of the booby species, whereas the red-footed booby travels to deeper offshore waters to find their prey. The three species of boobies in the Galapagos have done a fine job of partitioning out the ecosystem to reduce direct competition with one another.
Punta Pitt is special regarding its topographic profile; it is distinct from other landscapes we observe in the archipelago. This site almost seems to resemble a landscape from the southwest United States. We observed several species endemic to San Cristóbal Island along the trail: the San Cristóbal mockingbird, the San Cristóbal lava lizard, and the San Cristóbal marine iguana subspecies. Guests were thrilled to interact with the Galapagos sea lions back at the beach. They are such playful creatures. As higher order marine mammals, they learn through play and social interaction. They are incredibly curious about us humans.
In the afternoon, we disembarked for a lovely beach excursion. Guests walked leisurely along a beautiful white sand beach, took photos, and enjoyed the sea lions. The sunset was stunning. We ended the expedition with a farewell performance from our very talented captain. Guests sang along to some of his iconic songs.
Photo caption and photographer: A young explorer enjoys some personal time with a Galapagos sea lion. Lina has developed a particular affinity for the sea lions throughout the expedition, as many of our guests do. They are incredibly charismatic creatures that bring so much joy to our visitor sites. Photo by Alexandra Widman