Thursday, August 8, 2013

Rough crossing, fish, volcanos!

Monday 8.2

We traveled through the night crossing through rough seas to reach our quiet harbor at Bartolome Island. The seasick patch behind the ear worked well to prevent problems...some of our group were not so fortunate. One of my surprises here is to gain an understanding of the vast distances between islands,

We made a dry landing ashore and climbed to the top of the highest mountain... Several lava flows can be seen from the peak.. The age of each flow is evident from the many levels of oxidation... The most recent are deep and shiny black.. Older forms ranged from brown to a weathered grey. The "recent" volcanic origin of the islands makes this a perfect natural laboratory to observe natural selection at work. South American plants and animals have occasionally drifted on log masses or have been carried by fierce winds.. The first organisms found a hostile environment... Volcanic rock and little rain. Over time some simple organisms were able to get a foothold . The surviving offspring of these organisms passed on the traits that most supported survival, and in turn these traits were tested and modified, with the survivors in each generation passing on successful traits to all later generations. The organisms that evolved are unlike any found anywhere on earth... But they are perfectly adapted for life here. An example are the famous Galapagos finches, so finely adapted that different varieties are found on each island!.. Each variety suited to local conditions, and food on that island

Afternoon... A choice...Another "snorkel activity" this time with large sea tack on the boat for lunch -I took one look and said no way Good nap and I was ready to go again.urtles or a walk along the fresh lava sea front... This is a favorite haunt for sea going iguanas, seals, sea coast foraging birds, crabs, small lizards, and an occasional sea turtle. All so tame that you approach them within a few feet. Our group found a nest of sea turtles with 2 baby turtles emerging as we watched. It is hard work to dig out of the sand when you are 3 inches we watched, 2 of them made it to the sea. Sorry to say, patrolling Frigate birds made a good meal this day.

3 pm... We start a day-light trip to our next island. The sea is quite smooth. We were on the look out, but saw nothing of special interest.

A word about our ship mates...our group is speaking 4 languages. We include an Italian family with 3 children, a German couple with 2 teen age kids, a couple of Americans, the Ecuadorian crew, and Judy and I. The children and teen agers all a pleasant addition to our group.

We live in close proximity; it is a very agreeable group.

Monday morning...we spent the night in a quiet cove ...gentle rocking lulled us into long and deep sleep.

Early morning .. A dory ride ashore and we hiked for 90 minutes or so...through the midst of an immense colony of sea lions...some of them were of enormous size ! Here we also found land iguanas well suited to a diet of cactus fruit and cactus"pads". They patiently wait...sometime for many days for food to fall to them.

The north end of the island has steep faced cliffs that drop suddenly to the sea...Constantly crashing waves from the north provide the energy needed for such massive erosion.

Siestas are a very civilized thing to add to cultural life. After a busy morning we have an hour to drop off to sleep and recharge our batteries. Later we were off snorkeling in a location with many playful sea lions... They seemed drawn to us by curiosity and a playful nature. Also several sea turtles were sighted. I had trouble with water collecting in my face mask, and with the large swim fins. It was a real challenge to deal with the situation. ..fortunately the support boat was close at hand...and came to my assistance.And finally today we made a wet beach landing in the midst of a crowd of noisy sea lions ...totally fearless of us! Their cries remind me of the noisy bleating of sheep. This large group were all part of one haram, with one Alpha Male. His life is difficult due the constant threats and fights from challengers. We then walked through a forest of tree cactus looking for land iguanas, snakes, finches and hawks... We were not disappointed . Now another night journey through moderately high waves. New ear patch in place.