After yesterday’s deviation from our planned course we are back on track – busy day today!
Our longest sailing yet, from South Plaza north west to Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat). Chinese Hat is a tiny island (less than .25 square km in size) that sits off the south-east tip of Santiago Island. It’s easy to see where it gets it’s name from…
We were greeted by a group of playful sea lions wrestling in the beautiful turquiose water and trying to establish dominance.
The baby sea lions are so adorable, it’s hard not to take too many pictures of them
This is a small lava tube; you can see that part of the roof has collapsed. Inside were some sleeping sea lions, staying out of the sun
The landscape of Chinese Hat is very barren, not much other than sesuvium and lava rock.
And iguanas of course…
The lava heron is endemic to the Galapagos Islands, their colouring allows them to blend in with the lava rocks.
I came across this sally lightfoot crab hiding under an overhang in the lava. It was foaming at the mouth and vigorously working the bubbles around it’s face and legs.
I had no idea what was happening, so I asked our guide Adrian. Turns out the crab was getting ready to molt; they literally walk right out of their old shell. We later found a shell on the beach that looked like a live crab, but it was completely empty. Once they shed their old shell, they’re completely vulnerable until their new shell hardens. During this time they’ll find a nice hiding place, much like this guy did.
It always amazes me how these creatures of all different sizes live together in perfect harmony…
After our landing we headed back to the boat where they always had fresh juice and a snack waiting for us. Just enough time to change and grab the snorkel gear; it was snorkelling time! The panga took us across to the shoreline of Santiago Island and in we went. In this area lives a colony of 12 or so penguins; sadly no one was home! We did, however, see a lot of fish in the crystal clear water.
The bump on the head of the Bump Head Parrotfish becomes more prominent with age, so this one wasn’t too old.
There were an unbelievable number of star fish (they call them sea stars); I’ve never seen so many in one place.
This one is a Chocolate Chip SeaStar, you can see why…
After lunch we headed slightly south-west to Rabida Island and it’s red sand beach. This island had more vegetation than we’d seen on the other islands and was home to marine iguanas only; no land iguanas. This salt water lagoon was once a feeding and breeding area for flamingos.
Rabida is home to many endemic bird species, including the Galapagos Mockingbird
The Common Cactus-Finch
And the Medium Ground Finch
A few shots of the beautiful scenery of Rabida Island
This is a shot of Adrian, one of our wonderful guides
After our walk we snorkelled off the beach, but the water was too cloudy from the stirred up sand for any great pictures. Even still, swimming with the sea turtles and large schools of yellow tailed surgeonfish was a great experience.