Day 3: Española Island
This is part of a series about our vacation to the Galápagos Islands. To see the first article in the series, click here.
August 8, 2010
After our first night on the ship (Celeste and I slept great; Kenna less so) we had breakfast and had a hike on the western end of Española Island. Española is in the southern part of the island group, and has its own unique species, most notably the Waved Albatross.
Right after getting off the Zodiac boat our guide noticed a sea lion placenta on the ground, and a few feet away was an approximately 2 day-old sea lion nursing from its mother. Near the shore there were also large numbers of marine iguanas; we had to watch our footing carefully in some areas to avoid them.
Walking inland a bit, we came into a nesting area of the Waved Albatross, a beautiful sea bird that lands virtually no place but here. We continued to a cliff on the south shore of the island and were able to see them skimming the water along with frigate birds and swallow-tailed gulls. The path was boulder-strewn but easily passable. Again returning to the shore, we re-entered the land of sea lions and marine iguanas and had to step carefully in many places to avoid both the animals and their poop.
After returning to the ship, we had more briefings on snorkel and kayak procedures and then were fitted for wet suits and snorkel gear. The wetsuits were a bit worn but we were able to find suits that fit well. After lunch, we had a little downtime and Celeste had a chance to meet some of the other girls her age on the ship. We then headed out snorkeling. Since we had all been snorkeling in deep water in Hawaii last year, we opted for the deep-water option that held the best likelihood of seeing more wildlife.
When I think of the equator, I usually think of hot weather. It was surprisingly cool today, in the upper 70s. Part of what’s causing that is that the ocean is unusually cool due to a cooling of the ocean known as La Niña. We definitely noticed the cool ocean while snorkeling. The thermometer on my watch indicated a water temperature of 67 degrees F. A bit of a shock when we first got into the water, but the wet suit did its job and we were quite comfortable soon.
The snorkeling outing was what I would describe as a practice outing. There were mostly small fish (anchovies, I think) but not a great deal to see. The cloudy weather also contributed to limited visibility. We all did fairly well, except for some minor equipment problems (mask leaks for Celeste and Kenna, and my snorkel leaked water and had to be cleared regularly). We had thought about going kayaking later in the afternoon, but opted to enjoy the comfortable library on the ship to do some needle work, read, and work on this journal.
After dinner, Kenna and I ventured out to see the night sky. It was a clear evening, and the stars were unbelievable. The bow of the ship was dark, making the Milky Way clearly visible, and although many of the constellations were unfamiliar this far south, the sheer number of stars was really amazing. We promised ourselves that we would return with Celeste and with Pocket Universe on either the iPad or iPhone to so some more detailed stargazing.
For more information on this day, you can also read the Daily Expedition Report from the Lindblad Expeditions website.