Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, 22nd of November

Frigate Birds, Tortoises and Iguanas

Magnificent Frigate Bird (chick)

A visit to the Galapagos Islands is a dream to come true for anyone who is interested in nature. And not only because of the islands’ wildlife but also because of their history i.e. Charles Darwin! 

Magnificent Frigate Bird (juvenile)

Magnificent Frigate Bird (adult male)

We went on a day tour to Seymour Norte, an island north of Santa Cruz, which is home to sea lions, marine and land iguanas, and several populations of marine birds, magnificent frigate birds and blue-footed boobies in particular. 

The land iguanas were transferred there from Baltra Island back in the 1930’s to save the species from extinction. 

While Pekka spent most of the week doing maintenance work on our good boat Sarema, Riitta wandered the streets of Ayora taking care not to step on the marine iguanas basking on the pavement. 

She also payed a visit to the Centro de Crianza de Tortugas Fausto Llerena, a breeding center for giant tortoises. There one has an opportunity to observe part of the program that has saved both Galapagos tortoises and other endangered endemic species.

Due to the extremely heavy swell in the bay of Puerto Ayora, we were forced to shorten our stay in Santa Cruz to a little more than a week. We did try to make our life more tolerable by dropping a stern anchor to keep the bow towards the swell but when a water taxi cut our anchor line, we had had enough of the roller coaster conditions in the anchorage, and were more than happy to continue our voyage towards French Polynesia. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos 18th of November

Headwinds and Boobies

Six weeks and two days after leaving Bellingham we dropped anchor in Academia Bay, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands. During our rather tiring leg, the so-called prevailing winds that were first supposed to come from the northwest and then, further south, from the south-southwest never materialised but instead we were forced to push against southeasterlies most of the time. The strange thing here is that according to statistics, there should be NO southeasterlies in this area at this time of the year (or ever)!  So what has made the winds change their direction - climate change, global warming or…(actually, Pekka blames Donald Trump!)?

Fishing-wise we were equally unlucky. During the six weeks at sea we managed to catch only two fish, one bonito and the other we couldn’t identify. In between and after the two fish, we lost a total of four lures, and about a week ago when reeling in a BIG and beautiful mahi-mahi (dorado), first our one and only sturdy fishing rod (130 lb = n. 60 kg) broke and then the line (100 lb = n. 45 kg) snapped. Thenceforth, no more fishing!

But to counterbalance all this, we were extremely lucky with bird watching! Boobies, in particular, both brown (Sula leugocaster) and red-footed (Sula sula) visited Sarema frequently, and some of them even spent the night aboard making use of either our dinghy or the now motionless wind generator. The most peculiar visitor, however, was a somewhat ragged and weary looking red-breasted nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) that spent two days with us and then disappeared. We think, and hope, that the little fellow moved to a nearby fishing vessel as, at the time, we were more than 200 miles from the coast. 

Although, initially, we had no intention of coming here, we can’t really complain as it is difficult to imagine a more interesting place for a pair of wildlife enthusiasts than the Galapagos Islands!