Sea Lions, Albatross Courting, Dolphins

Trip Start Feb 22, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Ecuador  , Galapagos Islands,
Saturday, July 30, 2011



Espanola Island, July 30th - Punta Suarez, Gardner Bay


This day was truly one of the best days we spent in the Galapagos - it had a little bit of everything - a great grand finale. In the morning we went snorkeling for about an hour next to the steep volcanic walls of Espanola. Our snorkel excursion was filled with barnacles, sea urchins, anemones, fish, and a few scorpion fish (these fish are masterfully camouflaged to their surroundings making them difficult to find even if you were looking right at one.) But the highlight by far was our time playing with some young sea lions, only about 3 months old. They would swim right up to us, look right at us, and then dart away underneath - just to return seconds later. Aaron and I were thrilled. We played with them and tried to peek their curiosity. Aaron would dive down towards them and Missi was spinning and twirling on the surface. And it worked, they seemed to really enjoy interacting with us. It was a truly special and playful exchange with these adorable little sea lions. They followed us even as we swam away from them to return to our departing panga.

In the afternoon we went on our final land excursion in the Galapagos.  Excitement was high for we were headed to see the majestic waved albatross - the world's largest sea bird.  Espanola is especially important as it is the only place these birds nest within the South Pacific.  As it turned out, the hike did not disappoint.  Soon we were surrounded by dozens of albatross as well as countless blue-footed and nazca boobies.  Everywhere birds were flying around or nesting with baby chicks.  Half way through the hike we arrived at a beautiful cliff that overlooked a large blow hole below.  For half an hour we just sat and enjoyed the views as tropic birds raced by, boobies dove and fished, crabs crawled about on rocks and the waved albatross soared overhead.  It was simply stunning!  And then, just as we were heading back we had two "National Geographic moments"; a mating pair of albatross were performing their intricate (and somewhat humorous) courting dance while just several paces down the path a baby boobie was being fed by her mother.  Both were amazing to see in person. 



As though, things could not get any better, as Missi and Bob were on the sundeck reflecting and looking at sea birds, Missi spotted what she thought might be a sea lion in the distance. At closer look, it was a dolphin and in fact, there were many dolphins beginning to appear in the distance. Quickly, the captain was alerted and the boat changed coarse. Soon, we were in the midst of a pod of about 150 bottle-nose dolphins. Some were jumping out of the water, flipping, swimming in wake of the boat - they were beautiful. Every once in while, it you could catch them looking up at you just as intently as we were looking at them.

So many magical moments today, this was by far the best day ever!


San Cristobal Island, July 31st - Interpretation Center, Departing Thoughts

On our final day we returned to San Cristobal Island to take our flight from the Galapagos back to Quito, Ecuador.

Today came with mixed feelings as we were still excited by all that we had seen, yet saddened it was finally time to leave.  We had really enjoyed our journey on the Letty.  In the course of just 8 days we had covered 494 nautical miles, crossed the equator 4 times and visited 10 islands.  We had scanned the skies for rare and endemic birds.  We had crossed lava and sand in search of unique and pristine creatures.  And we had spent hours exploring the ocean's underwater world.  After sharing these experiences with everyone aboard the Letty, we created a new and permanent bond with nature and each other. It was a memorable, magical and epic adventure and touring the Galapagos islands with family and friends was a wonderful dream come true.
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