Santiago Island, 5/11/2022, National Geographic Endeavour II
National Geographic Endeavour II
Santiago Island is very interesting because it has many visitor sites; some of them were used by whalers and pirates. Today we visited three of them. They are not far away from each other, but each one has amazing and unique characteristics for learning about the Galapagos flora, fauna and geology.
Walter was born in a very small town on the mainland of Ecuador. His first trip to the Galápagos was when he was 12 years old, visiting friends and aunt, who had moved to the islands. From the first moment he saw the Islands, he fell in love with the...
During our first full day, guests of National Geographic Endeavour II explored North Seymour Island. In the morning, everybody went on a hike to observe and photograph marine birds, including blue-footed boobies and magnificent frigatebirds. During the afternoon, guests had the chance to snorkel and hike on Rabida Island.
Tower, or Genovesa, is home to over one million seabirds. Our highlights here were diverse, including fur seals, hammerheads sharks, turtles, manta rays, gulls, owls, and Nazca, red-footed, and blue-footed boobies. Our adventure started with a walk that began at the famous Prince Philip’s Steps. Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and frigatebirds surrounded us. Our guests spotted the elusive short-eared owl. All of us felt rewarded by the chance to view the only camouflaged owl on the island. Today was a red-footed booby day, and we spotted frigatebird chicks and marine iguanas. Nazca boobies are starting their mating season. Back on the ship, we prepared for our last snorkeling outing to search the undersea realm. Today we had close encounters with turtles, fish, playful sea lions, and fur seals for the last time. Seeing them up close brought excitement and admiration. After our great adventure, we returned to the ship where it was anchored inside Genovesa caldera. We were briefed about our departure and enjoyed our last delicious lunch, the pride of our culinary staff. Our next adventure was a wet landing on a white coralline beach inside Darwin Bay. The bay was named by a celebrity visitor, William Beebe, in honor of Charles Darwin, the great naturalist who redirected human thought. At high tide, we walked over a platform surrounded by birds of all kinds, including chicks. We observed the birds’ behavior and colors. We were moved to see so many active seabirds, especially by the parents who took care of the juveniles, hoping that one day they will fend for themselves. We were happy to find a few marine iguanas. They are smaller and darker here, as this island in the northern hemisphere has a much different ecology. Like in a Petri dish, different ecology equals different results. Taking this walk was like being transported back in time. Birds flew all over like in prehistoric times, and lava formations showed off the first foundations of Earth. Later, it was time to return to the ship and reminisce about our many experiences during this wonderful week. As we looked back and gazed at the islands for the last time, this place seems timeless to us. It is now deep within our hearts. Our experience on these special islands has been unforgettable. The wildlife has no fear here, and this allows us to realize that we are not so different. “We must rethink our indoctrinated knowledge, the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ and instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surroundings with all our senses; embracing nature with our true-spirit by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.” Celso Montalvo We have all bonded like a family, united by an invisible mysticism. At the end of our journey, we hope to stay in touch. We know that the experience our guests had this week will stay with them for a lifetime. Adiós amigos.
This morning, we anchored on Bartolomé to see the island’s unique landscapes, including its endemic flora and fauna. Our walk started in the early morning with a dry landing. We walked along a wooden boardwalk to the very top of eroded volcanos. From there, we enjoyed one of the most stunning views of this enchanted archipelago. It took us 370 steps to get to the top, and we stopped at several lookout spots to enjoy the scenery. We learned about the island’s geological history and about the surrounding islands and islets. The dramatic volcanic environment helped us picture the beginnings of the Galápagos Islands. Bartolome is comprised of dozens of spatter cones. Even though the habitat looks inhospitable, the island is home to a small, if bizarre, variety of species, including the only penguin that lives in the tropics. Galápagos penguins live along the rocky coastline of this remote island. Only a small amount of plant life has managed to thrive on this hostile but beautiful piece of land. Such life forms have unique adaptations to survive the dry environment. The lava cactus is only found in arid conditions. These cacti can get nutrients from dying stems as newer ones emerge. Tiquilia nesiotica is an interesting plant that grows comfortably in the arid soil made of ash. You can see it scattered over the soft soil along the trail. The plants maintain a certain distance from one another to avoid competition for nutrients with their conspecifics.