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Day 7 - October 18, 2013 - Santa Cruz & South Plazas Island

By Carlos Gonzales, Naturalist

Weather: Partly Cloudy
Fair Air Temperature: 21ºC
Pressure: 950 hPa
Wind: 5 knots


I went this morning to visit the famous Charles Darwin research center, which is located in southern Santa Cruz island. The zodiac came to the national park dock. There was low tide and the Sally lightfoot crabs were everywhere grazing on the reefs covered with algae and pelicans were on the mangrove trees.

Then after the dry landing I walked towards the breeding center and looked at all the conservation programs. It was very nice to see the baby tortoises from different islands and also to visit the corral of lonesome George which die 24th june 2012.

Some of these tortoises were pets in the early 50ths and 60ths so repatriation isn’t posible as their Island of orgin is unknown. There were some land iguanas as well in captivity.

Then I had time visiting the very nice town of Puerto Ayora. Along the main street I found several galleries and boutiques with interesting handcrafts, hand-painted t-shirts, post cards and books, and I also stopped by the fishermen dock where people were very busy disembarking lobsters meanwhile sea lions and frigatebirds were around waiting any oportunity for food.

In the afternoon, our landing was on another island which is much smaller than santa cruz. Its name is South Plaza.

In South Plaza, I walked in a very different terrain where the vegetation was Prickly Pear Cactus. It’s smaller in size than Santa Cruz with red color sessuvium plants.
The day was cloudy with a nice breeze coming from the south. I felt very confortable walking and observing land iguanas with their beautiful yellow and brown rusty colours grazing on the vegetation or swallowing cactus.

On the Cliff, the landscape was offering the oportunity to see shearwaters gliding over the ocean and also the very noisy red billed tropicbirds. There was a group of bachelor sea lions at the opposite side, some were sleeping and some were rolling their heavy bodies on the rocks.

Coming back to the ship two hours later I felt so happy from this experience I enjoyed during the day. To wrap all this up, there was a beautiful sunset, with colours on the horizon turning redish and yellowish behind gordons rock.

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