Located in the center of the Galápagos archipelago, Santa Cruz is a very interesting island due to its size and elevation. The northern part of the island is in the rain shadow with a chronic shortage of precipitation, while its south-facing side retains the cloud cover pushed by the prevailing southeastern trade winds. Because of these unique climatic conditions, the south of the island is greener, while the northern part has an extended arid zone. Santa Cruz is also the home to a large population of endemic giant tortoises, mostly found in the lush, greener southern “hemisphere” of the island.
National Geographic Endeavour II
North Seymour & Rabida Islands
We began our day with a landing on North Seymour, where we encountered hundreds of birds, mostly frigatebirds flying overhead. We followed a path that took us to a breeding site of blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. We watched their mating displays in awe as nature showed us its wonderful ways. Male frigatebirds inflated their red gular sacs and stretched out their wings trying to attract a mate. Male blue-footed boobies slowing raising their cerulean feet to show a potential mate that they can fish well and support a nest. We also spotted land iguanas, marine iguanas, lava lizards, and a Galapagos racer snake along the path. We continued our navigation to Rabida Island, famous for its red sand beach, a coloration resulting from iron oxide in its volcanic soil. Those who chose to snorkel were delighted with sightings of sea turtles, sharks, Galapagos sea lions, and colorful fish. As the sun dipped into the horizon, we continued with a casual walk to a brackish pond that has a resurgent population of American flamingos, an excellent way to finish this day.