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Galapagos Cruise – Day 2: Santa Fe and South Plaza

June 3, 2012

Day 2 of our cruise saw us having moved overnight  (most nights the boat moved for some portion of the night to ensure that we didn’t waste time during the day). This was mostly ok but there were a couple of fairly rough nights and we were there in the flat season.

We woke up in the morning at the small island of Santa Fe. Our morning excursion was to land on a small beach on the island and then walk a loop trail into the island.

The beach had a large number of sealions on it, with a few pups playing in the shallows. The sealions were very relaxed and allowed us to approach very closely – as long as you watch out for the bull who controls a harem of up to 30 females and can be a bit protective.

On the beach we found a dead baby turtle which never made it to the sea after hatching.

Once inland we were looking for the very rare Santa Fe Land Iguana. We saw one under the bushes by the side of the path and were considering ourselves very lucky. However as we moved down the path we kept seeing them, each successive one in a more photogenic place. By the end of the walk we didn’t believe our guides assertion that they were rare.

Once back on the boat after our land excursion it was time for a snorkelling trip in the bay of Santa Fe. The visibility wasn’t very good but there were a number of sealions ready to play which was fun.

Over lunch the boat moved to the small island of South Plaza where we had our second land excursion of the day. This was really about birds although there were lots of sealions and land iguanas about (the same species as on Santa Cruz).

As soon as we landed we discovered to land iguanas competing over a female. They were posturing – making themselves as big as possible – before a potential fight. However they can posture for hours so we didn’t see the actual fight.

On the sea cliffs on the back end of the island there was a riot of seabirds. There were large numbers of swallow tailed gulls but also fast moving Galapagos shearwaters and Magnificent frigate birds soaring overhead.

We were lucky enough to see a pair of swallow tailed gulls with a days old chick.

The chicks get big quickly and soon are as large as the parents although it still takes time for them to become self-sufficient.

High up on the cliffs at one end of the island is a colony for Bachelor Sea Lions who aren’t strong enough to challenge for females yet. The mock fight with each other to train their skills for one they feel they can compete.

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