Day 3 – We woke up off the coast of Genovesa, otherwise known as Tower Island, which is located N of the equator. After breakfast we scrambled into two dingy boats for a ride along the island’s cliffs. We saw several frigates and blue footed boobies. Much to my delight, we witnessed several more sea lions and encountered our first fur seals. From the dingy we clambered onto the island via Prince Philip’s steps and encountered increasing diverse avian life to include a blue heron, Frigatebirds (Great and Magnificent) Nazca boobies, Swallowtail Gulls, Red Footed Boobies, Lava Gulls (there are only 1200 in the world, and we saw 3!!!) and the predatory short-eared owl with a storm petrel in its mouth. What is truly astonishing is that none of the wild-life is afraid of us at all. There have been multiple instances where birds and animals have been in the trail and we have navigated around them! It is astonishing and wonderful.
After we returned to the boat some of our party went for a deep sea snorkel adventure. I went to take a nap and John headed for the water. During his swim he observed a parrotfish, Manta Rays, Yellow Ray, (John has a super photo of a spotted ray) and was joined on his swim by a sea lion! The group returned to the boat and regaled us with tales of the underwater wonders during lunch. Lauren, one of our party from Boulder, CO, saw and captured an amazing shot of a sea turtle during the first deep sea snorkel.
After lunch, everyone took to the water for a snorkel off of the beach at Darwin’s Bay (still off Tower Island). The water was pretty murky; however, the many sea lions (including the babies!) made the trip to shore more than worthwhile. I was able to have my picture close to sea lions in the wild…happy dance! I also learned that when one observes a white-tipped reef shark (and their spouse has the underwater camera) that it is bad form to yell “John, John, John, SHARK” while pointing in the direction where said shark was observed. While John admits that “John, John, John, TURTLE” would not have evoked the same response, I did have to apologize profusely and sooth my rattled husband. I also learned a lesson: next time we take an underwater adventure we will need two underwater cameras!