Thursday, June 7, 2012

Leaving Santa Cruz For Genovasa

Navigation, as it is called in the boating language of Galapagos, is the traveling between spots via boat.  The Yate Floreana, our boat, left Santa Cruz after picking up our sick professor en route to Genovasa, or "Bird Island" as it is known.

I was told that there is a very narrow point on the island where some boats cannot get through.  Our captain, and our boat, were able to.

The day's events were hike, then change into snorkeling gear and for those more adventurous and better swimmers, a drop point around the corner to snorkel back to our land point.

But first, we landed and saw:

Our point for dropping our snorkeling gear was about 15' from this nursing pup and mom.  You can see how "afraid" they are of us.  :)  The pup kept nursing the entire time we were walking around.

Over my shoulder, I heard the noise that once heard cannot be forgotten.  That of:

Calling for his mate:

The male friggate birds inflate their red pouches or sacks to attract females and make this sound this somewhat like a very loud turkey call only "warblier" - if that makes any sense.  Like many females who are attractive and courted by males, this female is very non-plussed by the males in her vicinity.  :P

Walking further along our trail, we saw our first:

Who had a secret:

Two eggs were being guarded.  The real secret is the obligate siblicide that these Nasca Boobie's endure.  See, two eggs are laid, approximately 1 week apart.  If the first egg hatches with a viable offspring, it will kill the 2nd egg's offspring when it hatches.  Either the 1st will attack the 2nd outright, or it will push the 2nd out of the nesting area, ensuring the 2nd starves or is eaten by a predator.

Mother Nature, specifically in these birds, ensures that offspring are viable and the species can continue.  If the first hatched bird is somehow defective, then the 2nd will hatch and kill the first.  Parental interference is non-existant.  In many cases, the mother bird will pay no attention to the obligate killing of the other offspring.

Thankfully, I never saw this happen but I did see the remains of several outcomes of the siblicide.  Yuck!

Walking through the path, there were happier sites:

And one with a juvenile:

Not to be outdone, the Nasca Boobie showed off it's juvenile offspring, replete with downy feathers:

Then onto the lava path we went (the entire islands are lava and as I will get to later in a different post, there are some that are active).  Upon walking out onto the coast filled with lava:

Which eats petrels for lunch.  I think I'd rather have the Oreos and fried potatoes (not in that order).

Winding around the bushes and shrubs, we found a gull:

And a ground finch:

Mother Nature can be cruel.  This little pup, we believe, might be orphaned as it was found in a tidal pool area and while snorkeling, we found a dead mother sea lion.  I hope not...

Then there were sea lion colonies.  Unlike dogs which will nurse other mothers' offspring, sea lions do not.  The mothers will chase away pups that are not theirs.  The calling of the pups and answers from the moms are bittersweet.  Again and again, one would see a pup approach a mother to nurse, only to be rebuked back to the sea.

And this, is what we walked on:

After spending 4 hours hiking and 2 hours snorkeling, it was time to depart Genovasa and head for Santiago and Bartolome.

This was the last look back before we left (and why it is called, Bird Island):

1 comment:

Dr. Courtney said...

Seriously I need you to tell me how I can get on this expedition/adventure/retreat...It is absolutely beautiful and I MUST visit this place!! I'm slightly jealous..haha just kidding..I'm HIGHLY jealous!! ;)