Española Island, Day 9

 Wave albatrosses, Española Island, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador

It’s an 8-hour ride across open water to our next destination, Española Island and I feel every movement of the ship’s bow. Today sets the tone for the whole cruise.  We’re up at 6am, breakfast at 7 and by 8am we’re out the door. The sea-lions, sun-bathing on the dazzling white sand of Gardener Bay beach, completely ignore us.  We could have easily stroked their long, slippery bodies, but Galapagos rule number 2 is no touching the wildlife.

We also have our first snorkeling adventure and the wildlife is as equally friendly and playful under the water as it is on land.  I’m checked out by, among other things, a large school of king angelfish, a bumphead parrotfish, and several sea lions.  Despite its location on the equator, though, the waters around the Galapagos Islands are cool enough to require wet suits.  Another MV Samba ‘idiosyncrasy’ I quickly become aware of is that there is insufficient hot water for all passengers to bathe at the same time.  So the last one back from snorkeling (me) gets a cold shower.

As we devour lunch, the boat moves to a different part of Española Island, Point Suarez.  Once moored, and after a brief afternoon siesta, we’re desperate to continue exploring.  Blue-footed boobies (BFB) and waved albatrosses (WA) are the main draws.  Our first sighting is a BFB with its 3-week old fluffy white chick in tow.  Another BFB is taking its equally blue egg for a walk, well a roll actually, which is supposed to aid development of the embryo.  Yet more BFB are engaged in a colorful mating ritual, while two BFB attack a sea lion that has inadvertently invaded their nesting site.  My camera is overheating with use.  By the way, the name booby comes from the Spanish term bobo (which means ‘stupid’ or ‘clown’) because the Blue-footed booby often appears clumsy on land.

Next we see the gorgeous WA, which breed virtually nowhere else other than Española Island. The WA are some of the largest birds in the Galapagos, they mate for life, and will forage up to 60 miles away for food.  Fantastic stuff. Back aboard the MV Samba we eat a sumptuous dinner, review the day’s activities, and then go over the schedule for another busy day tomorrow.

Blog post by Roderick Phillips, author of Weary Heart – a gut-wrenching tale of love and test tubes.


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