We woke up to the view of the northwestern side of Santa Cruz Island. This morning we visited Dragon Hill, a visitor site rehabilitated by the Galapagos National Park, where introduced animals have been brought under control. As we explored further into the island we encountered several of the Galapagos land iguanas; some were feeding on prickly pear cacti, while others were basking under the equatorial sun. We also observed several species of endemic birds including mockingbirds, finches, and Galapagos flycatchers.
After the walk, we had the opportunity for deep-water snorkeling along the coast of Santa Cruz, where we encountered several species of fish and a few playful Galapagos sea lions. Some of us were lucky to spot a couple of octopi between the rocky reefs.
After lunch, we explored a protected mangrove inlet called Borrero Bay. Around this visitor site, we kayaked and paddle boarded around calm water inlets. We spotted several juvenile blacktip reef sharks and small spotted eagle rays sheltering between the mangroves in shallow waters.
A Zodiac ride around this area offered the opportunity to photograph some local birds, including blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, and brown noddies. After the Zodiac ride, we pulled anchor to circumnavigate Daphne Major Islet. The Daphne Islets were key sites for the modern understanding of natural selection through the study of Darwin finches. As we sailed around them we enjoyed a beautiful sunset with a glass of wine in hand.