Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Day 5 San Cristobal Island Galapagos

Today, I had the opportunity to visit a place called Kicker Rock about an hour boat ride off San Cristobal to go snorkeling around the rock edges in a Pacific Ocean.  The "rock" is about 140 meters high and nesting grounds for several birds including the Blue Footed Booby.

After spending about 1 1/2 hours on a sandy beach island I went snorkeling with the group.  The beach was interesting in that you could witness the Blue Footed Boobies diving for their food along with a few Pelicans. You also saw your occasional iguanas and sea lions.  I did spot a bird that I had not seen before here, the guide told me it was an American Oystercatcher which are a little rare to see.

Ok... so off to snorkeling along Kicker Rock.  The first dive proved to be an excellent showcase of sea life including: spiny sea urchins, green sea urchins, bubble-head fish, 2-3 varieties of starfish, miniature sardines, a school of puffer fish, lots of corals, and floating barnacle larva (prior to them making their shells that attached onto everything),  I also was privileged to see 4-5 sea turtles within a couple arms reach away and ..... a white-tipped shark that I followed for about 30 seconds.  So.... that was really cool :-)

On the second dive, the excitement started right away.  As soon as I jumped from the boat, I landed in a small school of Eagle Rays.  Took me by surprize to have gotten so close to them.  I counted about 5-8 of them total; but again, only an arms length away.  During that dive I noticed fish (no idea of the type) in a small feeding frenzy.  I looked very closely and noticed that they were eating very very small squid about 1-2 cm long.  Saw a couple more sea turtles and another shark for just a brief time.  The shark could have been another white-tip or another popular shark, the Galapagos shark.  I guess Hammerhead sharks, which are popular too, were too deep for snorkeling. During the dive it was neat to have swam with a sea lion who seems curious of why I was invading his home.  The encounter with the playful sea lion lasted for about 2-3 minutes. Nevertheless, the snorkeling was well worth the trip.

Tomorrow I head to a different island called, Santa Cruz where I plan to visit the Darwin Center first thing. More to come....

American Oystercatcher

Kicker Rock 
"where I did the snorkeling"

White Tipped Sharks
"photo from internet"

Small island on our way to Kicker Rock with nesting Frigatebirds 

Passing by Kicker Rock to the beach first

Sea Lion flollicing in the surf on the beach I was at prior to snorkeling around Kicker Rock... thought it was cute

American Oystercatcher in action...

Caught 3 Blue Footed Boobies diving for dinner while on the beach prior to snorkeling.  Hard to see their feet since they are tucked up under their feathers.

Caught a mass of small tuna fish surfacing off the boat just prior to snorkeling providing food for sea birds.  

Thought I'd shoot an idea of what the snorkeling conditions were like near Kicker Rock.  Wasn't as bad as you might think since you float/ride with the waves as you swim.

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