Published: June 25th 2012May 17th 2012
Sarah and I were up and on the deck at 5:30 to watch the sunrise. It was a bit cloudy so we did not get a spectacular sunrise. Still, it was nice to look out over the glass-like ocean as the colors changed. To the north we could see Chinese Hat and the new lava flow on Santiago. It feels like ages since we were there, yet at the same time it was like yesterday.
We motor east now, for our last visit, a dinghy tour around Daphne Major. It is a pretty small island so the boat tour did not take long. About 10 years ago it was possible for small groups to do a land visit, but not any more. It sounded like there are a ton of blue footed boobies that nest in the crater and the park service wanted to preserve the nesting ground.
The tour was a nice little review of everything. We saw Nazca Boobies for the first time since Genovesa. Lots of frigatebirds. Swallow tail gulls with new hatchlings. Red billed tropicbird (which we may have neglected to mention seeing on the Fernandina/Isabela day). Lava doves. Pelicans. Lots of sea lions.
Just as our little boat ride was winding down as a nice calm last visit before heading back to the mainland, our boat driver spotted something on the water. Bottlenosed dolphins. Amazingly this was the first time we had seen dolphins. I thought for sure we would have seen them everywhere and they would have swum playfully with the boat a few times as I had seen many times. This group of dolphins, however, were too busy hunting to pay much attention to us. After spotting them they dove and we waited on the surface for a while. They surfaced briefly and were gone again. Seeing the dolphins was a nice cap to the trip. Sarah had never seen dolphins In the wild before so it was especially exciting for her.
As we approached our landing spot on Baltra Island the mood was somber. Nobody wanted it to be over. In the past 8 days we experienced so many amazing things and we had befriended our fellow passengers. It seemed too soon to end, but as the dingys dropped us off one last time we bid farewell to a trip of a lifetime.
There are more photos below