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Day Four - Española Island

We had traveled overnight to Española Island, the southernmost of the 18 islands in the archipelago. On the northwest tip of Española is the area called Punta Suárez, one of two primary features of the island. It is a nesting ground to the Waved Albatross, an extremely rare endemic species that only makes its home on Española. We found many red-and-green marine iguanas, appropriately nicknamed "Christmas Iguanas," which are also only found on Española. Large colonies of Blue-footed boobys, Nazca boobys, Mockingbirds, Lava Lizards, some Blue Herons and sea lions also make their home there.

Our hike to see all the animals and landscape lasted two and a half hours and there was plenty to see. We were able to se the Waved Albatross engage in intricate mating rituals merely a few feet away. They would also lay on their eggs and nests and allow us to come within inches of them with no fear. It's an amazing and unique way to experience wildlife.

Waved Albatross Mating Dance
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Albtross Sitting on Egg
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Cliffs of Punta Suárez
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Three types of Boobies are found in the Galapagos, however, we would only find the Blue-Footed and Nazca, or "masked," varieties at Punta Suárez. The Red-Footed Booby is a bit more elusive. The booby name stems from a slang term for stupid, as they have awkward look to them and sort of bumble around. Interestingly you can tell the gender of the boobies by the diameter of the pupils with the females appearing to have very large pupils compared to males.

Blue-Footed Booby
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Masked Booby
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Female Blue-Footed Booby
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The Masked Boobies boobies lay two eggs, several days apart from which only one chick survives due an unfortunate practice called obligatory sibling murdering. One of the chicks displaces the other by taking most of the food, therefore growing faster. Once that has been achieved, the larger chick kicks the smallest and weakest chick out of the nest, leaving it to die of thirst or cold.

Blue Heron
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Blue Heron
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Red-and-Green Marine Iguana
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After lunch, we took the panga to a small island off the coast and snorkeled in a reef-like area, which featured a good variety of sea life. A highlight was finding some reef sharks and green sea turtles. The sharks were wary and I had to chase them down to try and get a photo, which was not easy.

Sea Turtle
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Reef Shark
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White-Sand Beaches of Gardner Bay
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The rest of the evening we spent on Gardner Bay, a white-sand beach with black rocks and bright blue water. The scenery was amazing and there were plenty of sea lions and iguanas to interact with. I could have stayed there for hours, but it does get dark quickly and soon we were headed back to the boat, where the crew had piña coladas waiting for us.We went around the deck and said a little bit about ourselves and got to know a little more about each of our boatmates.

 

Day Five

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