Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Bartolome and the Boobie

Today went to Bartolome Island which is a 2 hour boat ride north of Santa Cruz Island where we are staying.We were up and ready for our bus by 6:00am. There were fourteen of us. 

The bus took us to the port on the north side of Santa Cruz Island and as we waited for our dingy to the yacht we watched a large flock of blue footed boobies hunting for their breakfast. They would spot a school of fish from the air and en mass, hundreds of them dive into the water. What a splash they made! I’m amazed that none of them ran into each other. After about thirty seconds, hundreds of them would take flight and in a few minutes do the same thing in another spot.

I had been warned about sea sickness so I took a Gravol before leaving the port. We took a small dingy to our yacht, the Altamar.

We had breakfast on board, then John and I went to the top of the boat.

The effect of the Gravol caused me to sleep for the two hours ride to Bartolome Island. It turns out that the water was pretty calm, so I probably would have been ok without the pill.

On the way we went by Sombrero Island, also known (from less politically correct days) as Chinaman’s Hat Island for the obvious reason of the shape of the island. We passed close by and could see Nazia Boobies on the slopes.

The water around the island was brilliant and clear so we could see many fish.

The island itself is quite sparse, obviously volcanic with pahoehoe and ahah rock. The island is dotted with many cinder cones. Bartolome is totally uninhabited by humans and it feels like you are on Mars with the desolation and red soil and back lava rock everywhere.

We climbed up and up the boardwalk to get to the top. Along the way, we saw many lava lizards and frigate birds flew above us.

The view from the top was spectacular. The focal point is the Pinnacle, a large piece of rock that juts up at an angle. 

We returned to our boat and headed a short distance to Sullivan Bay for snorkelling, passing a swimming sea lion along the way. We snorkelled off the beach. There were volcanic rock reefs which was home to many different fish.

The water was so warm that I did not need my wet suit...again.  Every now and then I would pass through a cold current, but most of the time it was very warm.

And the fish....! Sargent fish, parrot fish, wrasses, angel fish, damsel fish, a black with white box fish and more that I couldn’t identify. I even saw and octopus. Oh I hope I actually had my action camera on for that. I am still trying to get the hang of that thing.

It’s like you are in another world under the water...a wonderful, wonderful world. It was easy swimming, the salted water kept me buoyant. Most of the time I was swimming well over my head with no worries...and I wasn’t even wearing a life jacket.

The highlight was swimming in a school made up of hundreds of Sargent and parrot fish (blue with yellow tails) as they went from rock to rock grazing for food. I felt like I was part of the group swimming along with them. 

An hour and a half flew by in a heart beat. When I came up it was to see everyone in the dingy (except for the guides and one other lady) about to head back to the boat. They always needed to do double dingy trips with this group so I didn’t hold anyone up.

We had a great lunch on the boat with fresh steamed vegetables (hello broccoli ❤️) and a salad that was washed In bottled water.

I was awake and enjoyed the trip back  to the port. Many people snoozed or read.

There is a list of must see animals indigenous to the Galapagos called the “Galapagos 15”, kind of like the African Safari big five. The Galapagos 15 consists of the following: Galápagos Albatross, Blue Footed Boobie, Nazca Boobie, Red Footed Boobie, Flightless Cormorant, Flamingo, Frigetbird, Santa Fe Iguana, Land Iguana, Marine Iguana, Fur Seal, Sea Lion, Galápagos penguin, Galápagos Hawk, Galápagos Tortoise

So far we have seen seven of the big 15. I was hoping to see the Galapagos hawk and the Galápagos penguin, but to no avail but tomorrow is another day.

As usual, we grabbed a beer and went to the dock around sunset. We sat on a bench that had a semi-transparent roof above. A pelican landed on the roof and we could see the bottom of his feet as he loudly thumped across the roof to the corner.

The usual characters were out in the water tonight; sharks, pelicans and a sea lion. I said to John, “oh look, a needle fish!” And within seconds it was pounced upon and consumed by a pelican. It seems the needle fish are attracted by the light and the other characters by the needle fish. Guest appearances were made by sea turtles and rays.

A sea lion slept on one of he benches, barely opening an eye when anyone sat beside him.

We had a local fish tonight on our favourite restaurant street. They have a special technique; marinade the fish , wrap in foil, bbq it and for some reason occasionally blast it with a hand held hair dryer... I tell no lies. But it was delicious.

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