The third stop on our trip was at Genovesa Island.  This was the longest sail we’d have to do on the trip, and was the worst nights sleep any of us experienced.  Our boat was comfortably sized for the 16 passengers plus crew, however during long open ocean crossings, the engine noise and the rocking made for a challenging night.  Even the icebreakers I’ve spent time on in the Antarctic were much smoother than this!

Once we arrived it was immediately obvious why this was nicknamed “Bird Island.”  Just on the beach alone there were hundreds of boobies, gulls, frigate-birds, and of course the famous Galapagos finches.  We spent about three hours walking around the beach, probably not more than two kilometers total, but never for a second felt bored.  I was really enjoying myself, playing with all the settings on my camera, getting up close to the birds, and just smelling the salt air.    We went snorkeling again before lunch, and spotted another black tipped reef shark, along with our first Galapagos shark.  Pretty cool!

After a quick trip back to the yacht for lunch, we came out to another landing called “Prince Phillip’s Steps.”  Apparently if you’re a prince, people tend to really be impressed by where you walk.  No one really seemed to take my suggest to rename them to Henry Malmgren’s steps very seriously…

The steps led to the top of the island, where we spent a couple of hours looking for the rare short eared owl.  The surface of the island was pretty spectacular..it was all old lava flows, and had huge cracks and crevices running everywhere.  The soil was extremely poor, and the vegetation was pretty sparse.  It was surprisingly hot, but we got to see the cooling behavior of the birds as they vibrated their throat pouches to generate a breeze.   We’d just about given up on seeing the owl and were on our way back to the boat when our guide spotted one way off in the distance.  None of us would have ever seen it, and it took my longest lens to even come close to getting a shot.

That evening after dinner we started sailing back towards our next destination…another mostly sleepless night, punctuated by a bit of excitement as we crossed over the equator.

 

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