Lunch is served at 12:00 daily and, afterwards, there is a siesta time. So about 2:30 we boarded the dinghies and were brought to Las Baches Beach on Santa Cruz. Angelika has lived in the islands for over thirty years and is quite knowledgeable. We walked for about an hour as she pointed out the birds and animals. We saw Sally Lightfoot crabs, named after a dancer because they walk on the tips of their claws. They are quite colorful - red with blue. The darker they are, the younger they are. Newborns are black, blending into the lava which protects them from predators. A large flock of blue-footed boobies were swarming and dive bombing off shore in a feeding frenzy. Other sightings included brown pelicans, frigatebirds, Noddy terns, and marine iguanas.
The terns land on the heads of the pelicans and snatch small fish from the water as it drains from the pelican's pouch. We also saw a Franklin gull do the same which was a surprise to Angelika. We watched as a whimbrel chased and caught a small crab. We stopped at a small lagoon in which a lone flamingo was feeding. We had seen six flying overhead. The beach is filled with deep indentations, the nests of green sea turtles. Many of them were marked with poles placed by scientists who are monitoring them. It was interesting to see the frigatebirds cruising over the nest sites, in anticipation, perhaps. Angelika explained that the birds are able to detect sand movement when the turtles begin to hatch and so they fly low over the nests disturbing the sand and eventually uncovering the hatchlings.
When we returned to the beach we had an opportunity to explore a bit on our own. Doug and I walked down the beach and ended up at a lagoon where the other 5 flamingoes were feeding. We also saw lava gulls, black-necked stilts, white-cheeked pintails, sanderlings and a whimbrel.
We returned to the boat and had time to shower, relax and reflect before our nightly briefing. Angelika gave us an overview of the geology and volcanism of the islands and told us what to expect for the week. The itinerary is not the one we signed up for! We had chosen to explore the older islands which have less lava and more vegetation and therefore, we reasoned, wouldn't be as hot given that I do not do well in the heat. We also learned that while snorkeling would be an almost daily activity, there would only be two opportunities for kayaking. This, again, was not what Adventure Life told us. It came as a shock, but there is nothing we can do about it now. (As it turned out we would not have kayaked anyway since what they call kayaks are just molded plastic rafts that do not sit in the water. In the waves and currents around the islands, we would not have felt safe! Also, heat was not a problem due to the constant breezes that occur)
After dinner, we discovered that we are moored too close to other boats and therefore, there is too much light to view the night sky. Hopefully, this won't be the case every night.
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(Music: Chee Zee Beach by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 3.0" http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by/3.0/