Galapagos Sea lions

Today we meet even more Galapagos sea lions. Today we start in Post office Bay, Florenana.  Here’s our previous posts:

Kayaking

Sea lions love kayaks!
Sea lions love kayaks
Frigate Bird in the Galapagos

Finally an easy morning. Our first and only morning activity was a kayak tour around 9:30 so got to sleep a little later and have a leisurely breakfast.  Kayaking was in a cove filled with sea lion families. The Galapagos sea lions would come right up to the kayak and play, follow the kayaks or just goof around. We saw several laying on the beach, rolling around sometimes even floating on their backs. We saw a family with a large bull patrolling – we didn’t get too close. The guide said that if you do get too close, the bull will come right at you and circle around your boat as a warning. That would work for me!

Also we saw tons of many frigate birds circling above and some herons flying very quickly like 6 inches above sea level.  And as we paddled we’d spot lots of sea turtles – their heads popping up for a quick breath.

There was an option to go to Post Office Beach for some free time but instead we stayed on the boat and relaxed. There was nothing special about the beach itself.

Snorkeling with Galapagos sea lions

The ship moved to Champion, Florenana. After lunch is a deep water snorkeling trip at 1:30 then a nature walk in Punta Cormorant, Florenana.

Sea lions are always the star of the show. Make sure you see the entire video!

There was an abundance of playful Galapagos sea lions in the water throughout this snorkeling excursion.  We started in a little bit of rougher water near vertical rock wall.  Our expedition guide was terrific in making sure we stayed together, we were safe and he did a great job pointing out what to see. We saw plenty of fish, many in large schools. Saw a white tip shark and extremely large sea turtle swim by.  We then floated via current to a small a cove where the Galapagos sea lions were hanging out. They come right up to you, swirling, doing flips.  Sometimes biting your fins (never people) and holding on for fun. The large males never play – they patrol. The younger the seal lion, the more playful. Further on lots of tangs, surgeon fish and many other fish could be found including great coral and colors. Pelicans and more sea lions lined the cliffs as we floated by.

Sea Lion up close with Go Astro Travel
Sea Lions are playful and curious
Another friendly Galapagos Sea Lion

Nature walk

Later that afternoon, we went on a nature walk on Punta Cormorant.  This is a wet landing on the typical dark volcanic beach. We walked a bit across the island to a lagoon where we saw a flock of pink Flamingos (American flamingos) foraging in a lagoon. The lagoon is brine water (part fresh from rainfall, part salty from the ocean) which is a perfect environment for briny shrimp – the flamingos favorite meal.  They originally flew from the mainland when food was in short supply there. But they have stayed since conditions are good for them in the Galapagos. They have already evolved into a different subspecies from the mainland birds – brighter and larger. (only the larger birds were able to make the long flight across the ocean.) The subgroup that survived the trip, left the gene pool much smaller than the mainland and so are evolving differently.

Baking powder

We then trekked to the other side of the island to a beautiful white sand beach.  This beach is nicknamed Baking Powder Beach because the sand is so fine. It’s coral and seashell fragments, not volcanic ash – just due to the currents and wind.  Its home to many sea turtle breeding grounds. The turtles wait till dark, trudge up the beach, make a nest on dry land (sand) and lay their eggs. Less than 2% of the hatched turtles survive the walk from the nest back to the sea.  But that’s enough to sustain the population. Giant Frigate birds patrol the sky on the lookout for any turtles. In the water we saw a school of Golden Rays just off shore. Quickly we saw two shark fins in the water, then a splash – presumably with their next meal.  

Back on ship

Before dinner is a lecture on the arrival and establishment of the Galapagos species and the all important destination briefing for tomorrow’s activities.

The back of ship is where we change out of our wet suites. Here they hang to dry after rinsing in clean water.

By now we are experts at putting on and taking off our wetsuits, our life preservers for the zodiacs and the general flow of the days.  We’re glad we brought plenty of suntan lotion; not only is the sun bright but we end up taking several showers a day which means lots of reapplications.  We’re also glad we brought long sleeve SPF protected shirts and wide brimmed hats with chin straps as the wind (especially on the Zodiacs) can be pretty strong.

There are plenty of nice people are aboard and the staff is very accommodating. The drinks are nice, plentiful and always available. But this is an expedition style cruise – we’re all here for the wildlife adventures, not for a party.

SHARKS!

It was very dark so photos were difficult. But it was this density of sharks around the entire ship

During the destination briefing there were reports of sharks in the waters.  We all looked and saw literally a feeding frenzy. The amount of sharks we saw surrounding the boat is hard to describe:  a swarm, a milieu, an infestation. There were flying fish coming out of the water at all angles. They fly about 30 ft in the air, land and many times do a 90 degree turn and fly out again to avoid the waiting sharks.  

Each time a fish landed in the water, always with a splash, there would be a waiting shark trying to catch it. The sharks would just swim around, many times on top of each other or side by side, waiting to be in the right place at the right time. Each shark would thrash a bit trying to get their bite.  They were still there hours later after dinner. Looking down at hundreds of swarming sharks, relentlessly in search of food was nothing short of creepy.

We were interested, so we looked up some information on the Galapagos sharks.

Parting thoughts

Dinner was the typical excellent food and service as well as fun conversations around the table. Today we’re leaving you with just one example of artistry in food. We’re thinking today about all the Galapagos sea lions we saw, the beautiful wide sand beach we found and those crazy sharks circling our ship in search of flying fish. But we end each day with a luxurious meal, spacious and comfortable cabin with the knowledge there’s still more adventure to come.

A perfect end to the day.


Susan Wolfson
My goal is to Make Your Next Vacation Your Best Vacation!®
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