You are currently browsing the daily archive for 10/20/2010.
What a beautiful island, what a wonderful day!
This shows what we got up to after lunch. Our first attempt at snorkelling and my first attempt at videoing underwater. As you can see I have a lot to learn! These are the best bits! The bits with my finger in front of the lens and the really jerky bits did not make the final edit. Unfortunately neither did the HUGE turtle that I saw and failed to video – I think that I was already recording and pressed the record button in my excitement, changing the camera to standby! Oh well, you live and learn. The next underwater footage will be much better (I hope)
Sue Benjamin and I were wondering what the strange spiky things were, they looked like a cross between a sea urchin (which we also saw) and some sort of tube worm or bivalve. Will have to look those up. Or maybe someone at St Cyres could identify them and let us know. Our internet connection here is very patchy – it took about 3 hours of trying and losing the connection, followed by an upload time of over an hour to get the HD footage up. Thanks to Mun-Keat at the Wellcome Trust for his help in getting the video online.
I love snorkelling – the total immersion in another, very alien world. The strange sound of your breathing, the rattling of the water in your snorkel. Taking a deep breath and diving down, the pressure on your tympanic membrane (eardrum), blowing the water from the snorkel when you float back to the surface! The relief of the first breath after a long dive.
One of the first things I saw was the stingray. I spotted it below me and dived down. Judging distance underwater is very difficult – ask your physics teacher why!! So I got very close with the camera – not too near the sting though (my Dad got stung when he trod on one in Florida – his foot swelled up like a balloon). Once it saw that I had spotted it – it was off. I had to kick with my fins as fast as I could to keep up. I was soon out of breath and had to drift back up to the surface and then dive down again. An amazing experience to have such a close encounter.
The turtle was amazing. Our guide said that another boat had spotted a turtle so we swam to where it had last been seen. I got separated from the girls and our guide, spun round to see where they were and this massive shape loomed towards me out of the gloom. It noticed me noticing it and changed direction. I followed (messing up the filming at the same time). Again once it knew it was being followed it gave a mighty stroke with its front flippers and pulled away from me. I tried to keep up, but it was like a motorbike pulling away from a pushbike. So well adapted to its habitat – its swimming was effortless whilst I kicked as hard as I could in a vain attempt to keep up.
Also saw lots of fish, though the footage of this was too jerky for the final edit. Will slow down and try for more panning shots, rather than blindly chasing everything that moves in the future!
The boat ride to Floreana was amazing. Karen, Amy S and I were up on the top of the boat, and though it was very windy and sore on the (un-cushioned) behind as we bumped over the impressive swell coming in (more about this later) we had a great view of the journey. Just pulling out of the harbour we saw sea lions basking on fishing boats and pontoons. In the open water we were followed by blue footed boobies and albatrosses. They were able to keep up with our boat. We were probably doing 20 knots, and they used their incredible wings to generate motion from the force of the air moving over the waves.
Getting off the boat we climbed onto the quay and straight in front of us was my favourite animal – a marine iguana, just basking in the sun! We had 15 minutes later in the day to film them. We clambered over the rocks between them, passing within a metre of them. In fact you had to watch that you didn’t stand on one there were so many of them!!
The marine iguanas were amazing – they just lay there on the rocks in the sun, warming themselves up so that their core body temperature rose enough to give them the energy to swim in the relatively cold water (caused by the Humboldt current) to graze on seaweed stuck to the bottom. Occasionally you would hear a snorting sound as they sneeze out a spray of concentrated brine to excrete the salt that accumulates in their bodies. Amazing animals – such a prehistoric look to them. Definitely number one on my must see list of the Galapagos.
In the morning we had been up to a tortoise sanctuary high up in the mountains. At that climate the forests are watered by a mist that provides the lush vegetation that the tortoises enjoy. Because the climate is moist the tortoises found on Floreana do not have a high saddle like part of their shell as they do not have to reach up to eat.
We also saw Galapagos finches bathing in a pond in the sanctuary:
Before the journey back to Santa Cruz, our boat took us around the coast where we saw a Galapagos penguin, a heron, frigate birds and tropic birds. See the Flickr site for images of these.
All in all, an amazing day on a beautiful island. We are off to a local school today. Looking forward to meeting the children and teachers. I only hope I don’t fall asleep in class after 3 hours sleep due to the time it has taken to edit the video and upload the blog to the internet!
Yesterday, we arrived in Galapagos on an early fight form Guayaquil. We arrived in Baltra and then transferred to Santa Cruz on a boat. The first activity we did was to take a bus ride up to the highlands where we saw some sink holes and then went on to the tortoise farm; where we saw loads of tortoises and got the chance to try on one of their shells. We had dinner there and ate fish with chips and rice and fresh fruit for dessert. We also had some tamarind juice which I loved. After this we went on to the Lava tunnels which were taller than I expected, we even had to crawl through at one point. We then checked in to our amazing hotel that has a pool. For dinner we went to restaurant called Isla Grill where I had grilled chicken and a potato stuffed with courgette. We then went to bed as we had an early start, however for me and Jess our start was earlier than others as our alarm unexpectedly went off at 23:30 as it was still on U.K time. We then panicked and got up but soon realised some thing wasn’t right.
Today, after waking up at the correct time we had breakfast in the hotel which was pancakes and cereal. Our guide Marissa came to meet us and we walked to the port to get a boat to Floreana which took 2 hours. Albatrosses followed us whilst we were on route. Once arrived there was many sea lions, Sally Lightfoot crabs and Marine Iguanas. After taking some great photos of the wildlife we took a bone shaker of a ride in a bus up to the highlands where we saw some Tortoises and pirate caves. Our guide Javier was most informative.
We then took the bus back down to the restaurant we ate tuna and rice. For dessert we had a coffee cake. After lunch we went snorkelling and I saw lots of fish and a sting ray. After clambering back onto the boat we made our way to a cove where we saw a heron and a penguin. It seemed like they were posing for us.
We then went back to the hotel and our guide Franklin took us to dinner at Del Y Mar. We ate fish and a jacket potato. As we walked back to our hotel we did some window shopping ready for tomorrow.
Today has been great! First we had breakfast in our new hotel, Villa Laguna, close to shops, pool, it is heavan,.
We walked to the pier and got on a speed boat to travel to the island of Floreana. The journey lasted 2 hours which is a pretty long time to be on a boat. Felt a bit sea sick to begin with but was fine afterwards
After we got off the boat, we arrived to find sea lions, marine iguanas and pelicans (we were practically tripping over them!)
We then took a bus ride up to Santa Cruz highlands to visit the giant tortoise reserve. They are literally the size of a coffee table and I was literally centimetres away from it!
Our guide then took us to the pirate caves and back down through the highlands on a very very very very bumpy truck. It was a bone shaker.
We went to lunch at a local restaurant and had the crispy potato starter chicken, rice and vegetables and then a dessert.
We then got our wetsuits, snorkel, mask and flippers on and went snorkelling from our boat. There were stingrays and turtles swimming beneath us and the water was crystal clear and warm. My flipper came off at one point so i had to return to the boat.
We then headed back to Santa Cruz after a very long day. I fell asleep on Jess’s shoulder and didn’t even feel sea sick!
We went to our new restaurant, del y mar, at 7pm and had fish (again) , but it was very nice We had sprite which is the first sugary drink/thing that we have had since being here! It was lush!
We walked past some really nice shops on the way back to our hotel so tomorrow night when we go to dinner, we are going to buy some gifts!
Off to play cards (chase the ace) now
p.s Thanks nan and gramp for all the messages, we appreciate it!