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Thursday 2 Jan 2014
Punta Sur, Ecuador

Sneaky bachelor sea lions

After lunch, we motored up to the tiny islet of Plaza Sur (South Point) on the east coast of Santa Cruz.  This small platform of volcanic rock lifts out of the sea at a steep angle.  The sea laps at the low rock on one edge, with a channel carved out in one spot that looks exactly like a man-made boat ramp.  It is actually the bottom half of a former lava tunnel that has long since collapsed and been washed away.  The sea lions use this as a convenient ramp into and out of the water.  The rock from here to the end of the island has been polished to a shine by the passage of cheeky young male sea lions from the island’s bachelor colony, who choose to sneak along the land to get at the females, rather than swim around and have to challenge the dominant bull.  

With the exception of this sea lion pathway, the island was covered in a bright red succulent plant called sesuvium, creating a wonderful bright contrast to the tall green prickly pear cactus trees (with their waiting land iguanas underneath).  We also met some of the avian residents of the island, a pair of nesting nasca boobies tending their egg, and several curious mockingbirds.  We followed the island to the high cliff at the far end and watched all the birds circling around on the coastal updrafts.  There were frigate birds, boobies and even red-billed tropicbirds – delicate white birds with long tail feathers, which swooped and danced in the strong winds.  Standing on a cliff in the wind, looking out to the endless wide ocean was an amazing feeling.  Small as it was, this was one of my favourite islands in Galápagos.

We spent the journey back to Santa Fé going through photos, playing dice and sampling Angélo’s great cocktails.  The crew warmed up the Jacuzzi for us (yes, the boat even had a Jacuzzi on the bar deck) but we weren’t allowed in until we moored up due to the movement of the boat.  Ailsa, Karen and I stayed in there during the evening briefing.  We even had dinner in our bathrobes so we could get back in afterwards – how decadent! 

Fabian’s briefing tonight gave us an overview of South and Central America, explaining how population sizes and political influences have changed over the years.  I am woefully ignorant of the continent and his overview was interesting, teaching me more in 15 minutes than I’d picked up in two months here.

 

 

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Zoe's Big World Adventure Part II - #3 Ecuador and Galapagos Islands

Travel blog by zobeedoo

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This is the big highlight of the year. Joined by my parents and reunited with Ailsa, we'll spend Christmas in Quito, then travel to Galápagos for New Year, celebrating in style with a week on the Queen Beatriz catamaran visiting the southern islands.

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