Galapagos Cruise Report: Española Island

From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos, June 27, 2010

Sometimes you feel you’re going to have a special day before it starts up. The visit at Española Island began before the disembarking as a spring of life, and didn’t stop until we got back on board. The marine iguanas were taking the benefit of the low tide to forage on the exposed rock, biting a mouthful of algae off the stone. Some others were swimming at the feeding area, passing in front of our Zodiac. A friendly band of juvenile sea lions were having amusement at grabbing some of the iguanas by the tails, much to their annoyance. I was surprised to observe how a sea lion adult male jumped into the water and looped together with a group of youngsters. The adult tends to lose the power of playing, like in any species.

On the beach, a large bull was sleeping, at his side several cows, each one with its calf breastfeeding. A symbol of peace and prosperity in a healthy ecosystem. The blue-footed boobies had taken possession of the trail to build their nests. Most of them were covering one or two eggs, some others were offering us such a passionate mating display and an ongoing show that we didn’t know what to look at.

In the sea, some marine iguanas were struggling against the surf to reach the shore and make their way up to the cliff, a tough way of life they hadn’t chosen. And then came the albatrosses. Majestic and graceful, even when they walk with their “land sickness” motion. One of them came through the group without begging any permission, all the way over to the cliff. He hadn’t fully spread his wingspan when the air already took him up as if weightless. After tracing a large ascending loop in the sky, he glided above our head and disdainfully looked at us, irremediably stuck to the ground.

The most overwhelming view was to come still, when a chick appeared from below its father’s wing. This is the first chick albatross of the season, and there are many couples this year. It was time to reach the shore and go back on board but we couldn’t pass in front of a hawk standing at a short distance without observing him. What a treat the island gave us today!

In the afternoon at Gardner Bay, a cold wind and the misty rain, known as the Garua, didn’t prevent the enthusiastic from swimming in the waves, while the others went walking along the white fine sandy beach, to observe the large colony of sea lions laying down one on top of the other.

The feeling that such a day delivered to each one of us would be atrophied at being described with words. There is no spelling the strength of life and the beauty of nature.

What a day, what a treat.

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