Santa Cruz Island, 11/1/2022, National Geographic Endeavour II
National Geographic Endeavour II
Santa Cruz Island is home to the second largest population of giant tortoises in Galapagos. They are dome shaped because they have evolved on this Island where food is plentiful on the ground, in comparison to their relatives with saddleback shapes in places where food is much higher and harder to reach – an impressive fact about how populations are different from island to island. This is just another example of adaptive radiation on the archipelago.
Walter was born in a very small town on the mainland of Ecuador. His first trip to the Galápagos was when he was 12 years old, visiting friends and aunt, who had moved to the islands. From the first moment he saw the Islands, he fell in love with the...
Early in the morning we started our activities by visiting Punta Cormorant. We had a wet landing on a green-sand beach formed by olivine crystals. Walking an easy trail we reached a brackish lagoon, where we found Galapagos flamingos. The last part of the trail was a white-sand beach crowded with green marine turtle nests. Spending the whole day at Floreana, we had all kinds of fun. Snorkeling at Champion Islet brought us close to playful sea lions and colorful fish. In the afternoon, we paid a relaxed visit to Post Office Bay. This historical site features a wooden barrel that served as an informal postal service, the first in Ecuador. For centuries, this barrel was visited by pirates and other seafarers who left letters to be founded by other people and taken back home. Our guests continued the tradition by leaving postcards and picking up postcards to be delivered when they get back home.
Today was an amazing day on Española Island, one of the oldest and most diverse islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We started our expedition in the morning at Gardner Bay, where we enjoyed the white coralline beach and the company of friendly sea lions. We also snorkeled in the surrounding water and saw reef fish, sea turtles, rays and of course, the playful young Galapagos sea lions. After a delicious lunch on board, we headed to Punta Suarez, where we hiked along the rocky shore and observed many endemic species, such as the waved albatross, Española mockingbird, marine iguana, and Española lava lizard. We were especially lucky to witness the courtship dance of the waved albatross, which was very impressive and amusing. They clacked their beaks, bowed their heads, and bellowed a mating call in a synchronized manner. We also admired the local blowhole, where seawater is forced through a fissure, creating a spectacular spray. We ended our day as light rain fell upon this “world unto itself.”
San Cristobal is an island of extremes. It features one of the driest places in Galapagos and one of the most lush and verdant areas. We had the opportunity to explore and experience both areas. This ecological range is the reason Galapagos species were forced to adapt to different vegetation zones, thus practicing natural selection.