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South America » Ecuador » Galápagos » Isabela Island
August 31st 2017
Published: October 6th 2017
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Penguin nesting sitePenguin nesting sitePenguin nesting site

One of the two nesting sites at Elisabeth Bay for the Galápagos penguins
All of our activities today were at Isabela. For me, it consisted of three activities: a cruise in the pangas at Elisabeth bay in the morning, and a walk up into the hills at Tagus Cove, plus a panga ride at the same location. There was an afternoon opportunity for a snorkel trip, but I declined. I surmised (correctly, as it turned out) that I would not see anything worth the chill.

Elisabeth Bay is the location of the nesting sites of the Galápagos penguins. It is worrisome to see them using such limited nesting sites. WE got our first look at them at this morning's panga ride. (Actually, my second look since I got dive-bombed by two on the earlier snorkel trip, but did not see them above water). We went deep into the mangrove swamps, and there we found ourselves in the middle of the morning commute. Great numbers of green sea turtles and spotted eagle rays spend the night in the protected waters, and in the morning they head out to sea. We watched the turtles swimming out singly, while the rays headed out in herds and chevrons. Occasional sea lions showed up to join the party.
Penguin nesting sitePenguin nesting sitePenguin nesting site

One of the two nesting sites at Elisabeth Bay for the Galápagos penguins
At the entrance to the swamps, we saw a few penguins bobbing in the water or hauling out onto the rocks.

The afternoon hike divided us into two groups. The group we joined took a moderately steep hike up to the heights overlooking an interior lake, Lake Darwin. The other group went on a "power hike" with the purpose of seeing the same thing from a greater height. The lake is pretty if underwhelming.

On the afternoon panga ride, we did not see anything completely new, other than a Galápagos hawk which had caught a baby marine iguana for its evening meal. The ride took us along dramatic cliffs of volcanic tuff, and the geology took primacy over biology this one afternoon.

Altogether, this was the most underwhelming day of the trip so far, but I should emphasize that the term "underwhelming" is only in comparison to other days, all of which have been spectacular. Taken by itself, this would have been a day anyone would have loved.


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At start of trail to heights above Darwin Lake at Tagus Cove


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