Monday, December 5, 2011

Genovesa Island

01 Dec 2011

Boats at anchor in the Genovesa flooded caldera

Overnight, we crossed the equator back into the northern hemisphere, just!  We are just a few minutes north of the line in the flooded caldera that is Genovesa Island.  Apart from the entrance, we are almost entirely surround by land.

Prince Philip's Steps

After breakfast, it's the usual routine, grab cameras, binoculars, drinking water, sun-block and trainers and into the dinghys.  Our landing point is Prince Philip Steps,named after his Royal Highness following his visit in the 1960s.  This was to be our first encounter with Reds-footed Boobies who nest in low bushes.  They are rather comical with blue face and bill and bright red feet.  We also saw lots of Blue-footed Boobies and Nazca Boobies, the latter mainly white with a black mask on their face.  Also nesting were Frigate birds and we even saw a Short-Eared Owl, hiding in the rocks.  The owls mainly eat the Galapagos Shearwaters, of which there were tens of thousands flying around the island. Shearwaters nest in holes, so the owls sit outside the holes.

Short-eared Owl

The birds on these islands have no fear of predators, so often you have to step over them as they are on the path, they also nest in bushes at eye-level along the path, so nature is really in your face here.

Blue-footed Booby

After lunch, we were taken across the caldera in the dinghys to a low cliff,  Here, we heaved ourselves over the side and went snorkelling, primarily looking for Hammerhead Sharks.  There were lots of familiar reef fish here and eventually, we found a Hammerhead cruising just below us, a magnificent sight!

Nazca Booby

Our guide was feeling cold at this stage so he got back in the dinghy, whilst we started snorkelling back to our start point.  Because the snorkelling site is on the inside walls of the flooded volcano, the walls just disappear down into the gloom, but sometime where the wall had collapsed, we could see the bottom and found a school of Manta Rays just below us, we were so lucky.

Back to the boat for lunch and after a break we headed back to the shore, this time at Darwin Bay where we went for a brief walk along the cliff and saw all the usual boobies, Herons and Frigate Birds.  When we arrived back at the beach, we went snorkelling again, but it wasn't as good as the morning snorkel.  That said, we did get to swim with four, two-metre long, White-Tipped Reef Sharks, who were only a metre or two away from us.  As usual, they weren't really interested in us, but it is the only time I've snorkelled with them, usually I've seen them whilst diving!

Red-footed Booby

Back on the boat, we have dinner and prepare ourselves for another long overnight cruise.

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