World ARC - Day 47- 24th Feb – Isla Isabela, Ga lapagos

Steve and Lynda Cooke
Thu 25 Feb 2016 16:03
00:58S 90:58W

World ARC - Day 47- 24th Feb – Isla Isabela, Galapagos

Galapagos. A Land lost in time.......
Walking on the deck with a cup of tea at first light. A baby seal is chasing the little blue fish under Nina, on her back, swimming just under the surface belly up, and just fast enough to catch then munch, round for another one, catch then munch. She sees me watching her, stops and pushes her little brown head up out of the crystal water; blinks at me, then resumes her game. Its only when you see them swimming you see how perfectly adapted they are. Gorgeous, sigh. Wish the kids were here to share it with us once again.

The Tunnels Snorkelling Trip.
We were picked up at 11.20 on Nina by the boat, with Roy and Elaine from PawPaw, and Ian with his crew from Zoom, and a couple of professional photographers.
The boat took 45 minutes at over 20 knots to get to the area on the west of the island.
Rays, eagle rays, we saw them jumping out of the water as we sped along. Literally dozens of them, all jumping out a clear two meters above the surface of the ocean in rapid succession. Why? Not a scooby! Great to watch though.
We passed inside the rocky reef into a bay with mangrove trees along the shore, which made it cloudy and low viz, but it was sheltered.
Turtles. Huge, big old guys, who had spent their time out in open ocean eating jelly fish, and now were looking for an easy life, munching on the sea weed closer to the shore. Giant pacific green, up to two meters long, and so old they had green algea growing all over them, like Nina's beard when she needed a clean, and the smaller hawksbill, prettier, more coloured and with fluted shells. One was asleep jammed into a space under the rocks, eyes closed, still and at peace.
Lobsters on the bottom, hiding in the crevices and caves, similar to the Caribbean, without the claws.
Emperor butterfly fish, bright green pipefish, shoals of razor fish and 'Nemo fish'. The bottom looked like rock, but when I dived down and brushed my hand over it, it was soft coral, the entire floor a huge bed of it without break.
A sudden shout and clapping from our guide and skipper. A shark was asleep under a swim-through. A white-tip, a small one, lying on the sea bed, but with its mouth opening and gills flushing water out as it breathed. Just as we were thinking 'but its only a small one' a huge one passes underneath me, more than two meters long, and close enough to touch, its cold, blank, lifeless eye looking directly at my belly as it sinuously passed under me, its white tips on fins making it very obviously more shark-like. OK, that's a bigger one then! I'll just catch up with the slower members of the party!
Sea Horses. not bright and angular as we know, but bigger and brown and fatter, hooked onto a bit of harder weed. They don't do a lot, then, at least while we were looking at them.
Finally it was the penguins. Humboldt penguins, only able to survive in the tropics because of the cold current forced up from the depths as it hits the Galapagos shelf. Happy feet! They were the smaller South American ones, cute as buttons, but completely oblivious to us as we swam and photographed them, sitting on their rocks outside the reef.
After more than an hour in the water we made our way back to the boat, cold and shivering, to warm up in the tropical sunshine.
The skipper powered the boat to an area called 'the tunnels' where the top magma had solidified to form holes or tunnels underneath. only cactuses and mangrove trees could grow in this tough terrain. The candelabra cactuses grow at a rate of 1cm a year, so the ones standing 2 to 3 meters tall were there before Darwin visited the islands. Swatting a fly biting my leg, I managed to get a load of spines stuck in my backside from one. I think they'll be there a long time yet!
What a truly fantastic day in Galapagos.