Yesterday was the first day of my Galapagos cruise. I am travelling on the Eden , a 16-passenger ship. We spent our first full day on the northeasternmost island of the archipelago, which is considered to be a bird’s paradise: Genovesa.
Yesterday afternoon, we already made a short stop in Bachas Beach (which is still on the main island Santa Cruz). This beach had the "usual suspects" (i.e. Sally Lightfoot crabs, and marine iguanas) to offer – as well as a single flamingo. Unfortunately, the snorkeling from the beach was not that great: poor visibility similarly to the day before, but without any turtles or sharks.
After a long (eight-hour) sail through the night (with which I coped surprisingly well), we woke up in Darwin Bay at the island of Genovesa. First, we explored the surroundings of the nearby beach, around which some of the tens of thousands (!) of birds of the island nest. We were able to observe the three most well-known species up close: the red-footed booby, the Nazca booby, and the frigatebird.
The first looks a bit clumsy, but is a very graceful flier – and its red-footed variety is unique to Genovesa. His relative, the Nazca booby, does not have such beautifully colored feet, but very fluffy offspring.
The (male) frigate bird finally tries to impresses the females in the mating season (and that is just now) with his inflated red gular pouch. Us tourists (female as well as male) were impressed, too.
Finally, there is the swallow-tailed gull, which boasts at least pink feet and a red ring around the eyes. Even sea lions sometimes frolick in the shallow waters. Especially the juveniles are very cute to watch, even if they do not show any red color.
In the afternoon, we explored the edge of the former caldera (which now forms the bay) via the Prince Philip Steps. (*) Up there, we could see more of the local bird life, in addition to many spiny Palo Santo trees that bear leaves for only two months each year. We could also notice that the birds are actually not afraid of humans – on the contrary: Even the juveniles observed us with interest – or honked at us indignantly (and almost attacked us), if we were coming too close to their home.
Unfortunately, the snorkeling trips were a bit disappointing: We did not get to see any hammerhead sharks (although they are supposed to be around in this bay). At least, we spotted a few shoals of fish. On our third snorkeling trip at the foot of the Prince Philip Steps, it was also impressive to see how far the steep cliffs continue underwater.
(*) These are, by the way, named after the husband of Elizabeth II. because he climbed them on his visits in 1964 and 1981.