Floriana & Galapagos XII. 08:36:49S 127:34:41W

Zipadedoda of Dart
David H Kerr
Sat 22 Mar 2008 17:30

Yesterday was another lovely sunny day. We have a full Moon tonight and the moonlight reflecting and shimmering on the sea, is just gorgeous.


The winds continue to be fickle,  but in the main from the North East and light airs to boot! So it’s been slow progress today, with only 145nm covered in the last recorded 24 hour period. Just 748Nm to go now……………….Winds are forecast to increase in velocity and return to South East Trades on Sunday. So hopefully by the time I send the next blog up-date we will  be making much better time. Hope so, as the first boats have now arrived in Nuku Hiva, and the radio propagation is so bad out here that it is really hard to chat to the other boats on the SSB radio. So every one is feeling a bit lonely and is now resorting to e-mailing poems and “alternative” verses to “Wild Rover” to one another! Some of which are very naughty, but very funny too. I suspect the next shore party for the full fleet will be a real hoot with these renditions……………


So to Floriana…………………………


This is an interesting Island, particularly for its history. In the early 19th Century, no one seemed to be interested in the Galapagos Archipelago, except a few scientists.  So no country had formally laid claim to it or more importantly exercised sovereign territory of the area. So the Japanese being an enterprising lot decided to annex Floriana for themselves. They then invested heavily in construction of a Whaling station and a Tuna  cannery, circa 1890, to support their burgeoning whaling industry (yuk).  But by the early 20th century, egged on by the scientific community, Ecuador exercised its rights. At around the same time the whale population in this area of the Pacific was pretty well decimated, and the whaling station was no longer financially viable and consequently was abandoned by the Japanese. Its remnants are still there in the form of huge rusting boilers, and large concrete bases and footings for (presumably) long since gone wooden buildings.


Floriana was also “colonised” by a German coulpe around 80 years ago (not 100% sure of the date). This couple were apparently dentists, and they decided to set up home on Floriana “Good Life” style. Amusingly, one thing they did before setting up camp here was to have all their teeth removed and replaced with a set of stainless steel nashers! Says a lot about their confidence in their dental skills! A little while later, a Norwegian couple also fell in love with Floriana, so they too decided to set up camp. It seems that there may have been some “hanky panky”, because one of the ladies mysteriously “disappeared”, never to be found. Some time after this a boat arrived, with an American lady and her THREE Lovers, Yes, three. Talk about being greedy. Some time after they arrived, she too disappeared in strange circumstances. Since then more settlers have arrived and there is now a population of around 150 souls on the Island. None of whom are indigenous, and about half are from Ecuador. Oh, and since the original disappearances, others have vanished into thin air. Never to be found, or for that matter nor has anyone ever been found guilty of “bumping them off”.


So our merry band of Ralliers stayed “REAL CLOSE” together whilst on or missions ashore.




The other thing this Island is famous for is its “Post Office”. This was established over 100 years ago, by British seamen, working on Whaling boats.  It was a crude system and very hit and miss. It is in fact still in operation today, but now for the benefit of tourists. The “Post Office” is a simple wooden barrel mounted on a pole. On the side is a trap door, into which your mail is deposited. Then when the next ship to visit the island is on its way home. The post is collected, and then posted locally in what ever country the cards are destined for. If for example we had left a card to send to ourselves (sad), Then if the next group visiting were from the UK, one of them would take the card and then post it in the UK once they arrived home. Like I said it is a very crude system, and probably much more efficient today than it was 100 years ago. BUT it was the only means of getting post home to loved ones in those days, for fishermen who might be at sea for years. It has now taken on cult status and is decorated with painted signs from visiting yachts from all over the world.



After this we visited the cave. This is in fact a lava tube, that used to be used by smugglers (might explain the disappearances). Not much to see, but an interesting diversion, and at least it was cool down there.


Whist trekking to the cave, I saw a beautifully coloured Grass Hopper, so quickly took a picture of “it” before it decided to hop off. On closer inspection it was a pair of Grass Hoppers, enjoying the mating season……………..






This Island is another to be blessed with a wide and variety range of bird life.  It was here that I finally managed to get a picture of a Yellow Warbler. Hurray.  There were also a number of different Finches.




We then went back to a beach to await our Panga ride back to the mother ship for lunch! Whilst there we saw a young Hammerhead Shark at the waters edge. He/she was about 15 inches long, perfectly formed and cruising majestically along in the shallows.


After lunch we rested before being taken to the Devils Crown. This is a rugged set of rocks about 1 mile off shore from Floriana. It is as the name suggests shaped like a crown. Here we did a couple of drift snorkels, in the strong currents, that flow through the rocks. Quite a challenging swim, with mixed visibility. But we were rewarded by the sight of a large White Tipped Reef shark and some large Sting Rays. Also large Box Puffer Fish, and several varieties of Star fish, including a Crown of Thorns. Once again I also had the pleasure of being scared witless by a cavorting sea lion,  who seemed to want to engage in under water dancing with me.


We then returned to Floriana for an afternoon stroll across part of the Island from Green Bay Beach across to Sting Ray Beach. Along the way we saw loads more wildlife,  but the star of the show in the bird life department has to be the Pink Flamingos.



There are about 75 nesting pairs here. We counted 38 when we were there. They are just beautiful and so elegant the way they glide along on those long legs.  Dabbling those hooked beaks in the water “searching for prawns”..isn’t there a song,  hmmm wait a minute it will come to me soon………………………



After a bit of a trek we arrived at Sting Ray beach. We were under strict instructions not to walk in the water on this beach. The official reason being that there are loads of Sting Rays in the sand, that could do you no good at all if you stand on them. However, being the cynical chap I am……the real reason I believe is because this is a prime mating and nesting beach for the local sea Turtle colony on this Island.


The waters edge was full of them. All trying to mate themselves silly, prior to the females going ashore at night to dig a nest and then lay hundreds of Ping Pong size eggs. She then abandons the nest and her offspring to chance and the elements.


Interestingly, the females are very much larger than the males. At east twice the size in fact. (This one had a shell that was over a metre long).They can also have three males on them at a time all having sex with her.  The female below is living proof that you can have too much sex. Yes, it’s true, believe me. Well that is what we were told anyway. Actually it is not unheard of for the females to die from exhaustion during this process. (Way to go).  This one was literally washed ashore, utterly knackered.  After a few minutes resting on the beach, in the surf, she went back for more….total Nympho’ if you ask me.



After all of this fun, the females then have to drag themselves up a beach, for around 150 metres and then set about digging a nest in the sand down to a depth of around 1 metre or more.  All this followed by the trivial matter of laying the eggs. We were also told that the last layer of eggs to be laid on the top of the nest are the ones most likely to be infertile. That way any predators, breaking into the nest will do the least damage. She then has to “fill in the nest. The last and final act before returning to the sea and a bit if RnR, is a downhill crawl, in a zig zag pattern to attempt to disguise the whereabouts of the nest. A complete waste of time of course……….


We were not allowed to walk on the part of the beach were the nests were. But we got close enough to one to see the tracks were the baby turtles had hatched out and then scuttled down the beach into the surf……………




But finally the real stars of the show……………………The Lesser Spotted Zippies., chilling out after an exhausting afternoon watching nature at work. Well that’s what we call it!!





Next up our final Galapagos adventure. A dawn raid on “The Channel”, Baltra.