Another day in paradise! Urbina Bay, our first visitors’ site today, is of great interest. A remarkable geological event took place in this location, as recently as in 1954. Over two months the adjacent coastal area of the landing beach was violently uplifted prior to volcanic activity on Isabela Island. In certain areas, the intertidal zone was thrust up more than 4 meters (16 feet) out of the ocean, trapping invertebrates and leaving various species exposed high and dry. This morning was our opportunity to explore the geological and oceanic past of the uplift and the terrestrial present with species that have little by little arrived since this famous event took place.
During the walk, we were surrounded by salt resistant vegetation, with Galapagos mockingbirds and Darwin finches appearing on the top branches to sing. As we ventured farther inland, we came upon a hardy population of Galapagos land iguanas. We saw several along the trails. Many native and endemic flowers were found everywhere as well as the beautiful Galapagos cotton and yellow cordia flowers. The icing on the cake was finding of a giant tortoise resting under a bush along the trail. At the end of the walk, we had the chance to cool off on the black lava landing beach.
At around midday we had to pause, temporarily, a presentation on Darwin that was going on for we had a wonderful sighting. A pod of bottled-nosed dolphins was seen, photographed and enjoyed from the bow of our ship. The dolphins were very relaxed, and they stayed close to us. Some leapt out of the water, and some were bow riding. It was amazing!
In the afternoon a short navigation brought us to Tagus Cove, which has been a protected cove for sailors, including those onboard the H.M.S. Beagle with Captain Fitzroy and the young naturalist Charles Darwin. After lunch, we had an early kayak and paddleboard outing, followed by deep-water snorkeling.
In the late afternoon, some guests opted to go for an invigorating and fast-paced hike to the summit of a nearby hill, and some went on a Zodiac ride. The Zodiac ride along the outer coast let us see flightless cormorants, Galapagos penguins, some blue-footed boobies, brown pelicans, Galapagos sea lions, with an occasional Pacific green sea turtle coming up to the surface. At the end of the day, the coast lit up with a golden glow, and we returned to our ship content that life shown its magnificence to us today.