After another long, rocky night of travel on the boat, we ended up on the west side of Santiago Island at a place called Puerto Egas. It was the same island where we went on our first excursion back in time, but the west side offered totally different terrain including a wet landing onto a black sand beach. Sea lions dozed peacefully nestled into the rocks. The marine iguanas blended in so perfectly with the sand I had to watch carefully not to step on them.
We hiked along a dusty, sandy path and had the good fortune to see a Galapagos Hawk, the top predator of the Galapagos Islands. On this particular island the hawks have adapted to become polyandrous (one female, many males), instead of the life-long, monogamous pairing typical of hawks.
Eventually the trail led us to a lava beach. Sea lions frisked around in the diaphanous blue-green waters. I was fascinated by a spot nicknamed “Darwin’s toilet” aptly named due the waves filling up and draining a particular hole in the lava with a flush-like action. Marine iguanas lazed about on the rocks soaking up the sun.
We returned to the boat for our snorkeling gear and headed back to the black sand beach. I was lucky enough to see a giant sea turtle resting quietly on the sandy floor of the ocean, partially obscured by a school of tiny fish. On the other side of the beach I watched another sea turtle quietly grazing on a patch of sea lettuce, waving gently in the currents. Just before we had to leave I spotted two white-tipped reef sharks. My initial response was one of panic before I remembered to calm down so as not to attract any unwanted attention.
In the afternoon we headed to Buccaneer Cove for deep water snorkeling. I saw my first starfishes, which prefer to live in colder waters. One was called a chocolate-chip starfish because of the dark, chocolate-colored markings on it.
Bonus picture of a pelican. I accidentally got sunscreen on the lens so there’s a bit of a smudge on the image.