Galapagos Cruise Report: Floreana Island

From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos, Friday, May 14, 2010

We decided to go to a great human history site very early in the morning at Post Office Bay. We landed on a white beach with calm waters. Just a couple of meters off the beach we encountered the Post Office Barrel, holding great memories from old times. It was exiting to hear great old-time stories from 1792 when Captain James Collnet first established the barrel that would keep the sea men communicating with the rest of the world. It was an easy but practical use of a barrel in those days, and today. Back then, buccaneers, pirates, and any sailors passing through the area would leave their mail, expecting to have someone going back home soon pick it up and – if the mail had an address near their destination – take it and, as a code of honor, hand deliver it. Today, we certainly followed the tradition, leaving some post cards and picking up some. Let’s see how long it takes before someone knocks on our doors with our mail! 

As we the day went on, we had a second outing for a Zodiac ride around Champion Islet (satellite islet of Floreana). This time we had an expedition mission that was about the search for the very rare Floreana mockingbird, a bird in critic danger of extinction with about 50 pairs left around the islets. Nature blessed us, for not only did we see many blue footed boobies fishing , multiple shore birds, and sea lions but we even encountered about 6 of the rare mockingbird specimens. They were very active, flying around and getting water off the cacti.

After a great bird watching time, we got ready to explore the underwater world of Champion Islet. The water was so clear that you could see huge schools of king angel fish from the Zodiac, inviting us to join them for our next adventure. As we started going around the islet, we encountered several schools of fish such as salemas, dusky chubs, jacks, king angels, parrot fish and several species of sea stars. On one of the cliffs we even had some sea lions coming close to us and blowing bubbles of air, inviting us to play with them. It was just an excellent snorkeling opportunity.

For the afternoon adventure some of us started kayaking around Cormorant Point and soon enough we started loading the Zodiacs for a wet landing followed by an easy hike at Cormorant Point, where we explored a brackish water lagoon holding some greater flamingos. They have very pink colors, something unusual for the colors of the animals and landscape we were getting used to seeing on other hikes. This time the flamingos were the highlight; some chicks were searching for crustaceans in the muddy sediments of the area cover with water, and common stilts were around. All this made for great shots of fauna accompanied by the great landscape of cinder cones and green colors of mangroves growing around the lagoon.

The mysterious island of Floreana taught us well about human history and the first settlements here. Finches were spotted; yellow warblers and endemic flora were also explained as we walked towards the other side of the visitor site. At the end of the trail, a beautiful white fine coralline sand beach showed up. Walking along this beach was just outstanding. Some of us had the chance to find frigate birds feeding on hatchling of sea turtles right in front of us, as this is a nesting area for sea turtles. Sharks and rays were also seen very close to shore.

We ended our day with much more knowledge about the human history of the archipelago and new landscapes, new amazing sightings. Another perfect day in the Galápagos aboard the National Geographic Islander!

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