We were picked up this morning at 7.45 and taken to the pier area. I was feeling much better, although still a little shaky and tender around the tummy area. But determined to join in with everything that today had to offer.
We first went on a short walk through the mangroves to a lovely beach cove and then went to the pier for the boat where we were entertained by a couple of sealions playing and chasing each other. We went on a boat ride around the bay where we saw the famous Galapagos penguins. The penguins are strictly monogamous and there are 42 couples, a total of 84 penguins on Isla Isabella. If one of the couples dies, the surviving penguin doesn’t take another mate, but will die shortly afterwards.
We then crossed the bay and went on a walk over the lava rocks where we saw many more iguanas, another lagoon and then viewed shark alley. There were lots of white tipped reef sharks just basking in the water and the highlight was watching a young sea lion chasing one of them down the alley.
Then we went to our snorkelling area for the day. We snorkelled off some rocks in a sheltered lagoon area and then swam further out through a channel towards the open ocean. The snorkelling was absolutely wonderful.
We saw all manner of sea urchins, especially nasty black spiky sea urchins that we were warned not to step on! We saw different types of starfish – blue starfish, that were a vibrant purple-blue colour, chocolate chip starfish that literally looked just like chocolate chip cookies, and big fat starfish that I can’t remember the name of – pan something or other.
We saw so many different types of fish, but the highlight were shoals of sturgeon fish with blue bodies and yellow tails. We also got close to iguanas swimming through the water heading back to land.
We saw a shark, sea cucumbers and so much more that I can barely remember everything.
The highlight for me though was a swim with two of the sea turtles. I had two swimming just below me – only about 6-9 inches, one just on either side of me, so we were swimming in synchronisation in a little triangle together for a short while before they dived back down again. It was a truly beautiful experience that I will never forget.
After the snorkel, we were brought back to our hostel, where we had free time from around noon until 3pm for the afternoon’s activities.
Caroline and I went for a walk around the beach and square and then had lunch at Cesar’s where I had a nice plain potato soup. I was feeling much, much better and so far so good with food staying in me! Then we met up with Liz and Shaukia and had a drink – blackberry juice for me.
For the afternoon, we went to the giant tortoise breeding centre, where we learned about the programme for saving the giant tortoises. The introduction of other animals to the Galapagos Islands, such as goats, rats, dogs and insects had almost caused their extinction but the breeding programme is saving them. The tortoises live to 150 years old so the people hatching and raising them won’t get to see them grow old. They are in incubation pods until they’re 4 years old, then put into enclosures from 5 until 7 years old. At some point after that, they get released back into the wild.
After the tortoise breeding centre, we went for a walk through the wetlands where our eyes feasted on the sight of beautiful flamingos. They were a stunning peachy colour with black in their wing tips. We learned more about the plant life and how the eco system works and why conservation is so important in the Islands.
Then it was free time – a walk along the beach, back to the hostel for a shower and out for an evening meal. I’m happy to say that I was finally felling much more like myself and able to join in with the evening meal, although stuck to rice and vegetables.
A fabulous day! I’m feeling truly blessed and grateful for such wonderful experiences.