Monday, March 14, 2005 - Fernandina Island: Punta Espinosa / Crossing the Equator
At 12:45 we anchored off of Fernandina. Magnificent! Even with two other boats anchored nearby, it feels pretty darn isolated and remote. Fernandina Island is the westernmost island in the archipelago. I'm fairly confident that if we sailed to the far side of the island, we'd fall right off the edge of the earth. Fernandina is the youngest of the Galapagos Islands, only about 100,000 years old, and it is also the most volcanically active, having erupted as recently as 1995. It is the largest pristine island in the world, meaning there are no introduced species here.
From Punta Espinosa - Isla Isabela in background
Punta Espinosa is the only visitor site on Fernandina and my favorite one of the entire trip! This is the most awesome place ever!! On our way to the landing we saw sea turtles and sea lions, and I got several photos of a marine iguana swimming. Fernandina has the largest colony of marine iguanas in the Galapagos. There are hordes of them, with lava lizards skittering all around.
Cute or hideous? You decide.
There are 1,000 marine iguanas for every kilometer of coast in the Galapagos, and they are only found in the Galapagos. They usually dive for five to ten minutes at a time searching for seaweed, but they can stay underwater for as much as an hour. They excrete the excess salt from their bodies by sneezing it out their nostrils. Very attractive. This gives them a white, crusty forehead. Mostly they just lay around sunbathing, draped across one another for warmth.
We are vastly outnumbered!
Menage a trois
The Galapagos - Where iguanas grow on trees
Since we missed landing at Punta Morena yesterday, this was our chance to walk on not only pahoehoe lava, but also aa lava. Okay, now we know: aa lava sucks to walk on. I'm glad we went snorkeling yesterday instead. The word "aa" supposedly means pain. To my meager understanding, pahoehoe is a smooth-surfaced lava flow, and aa is a rough, pointy lava flow.
We saw several flightless cormorants, one pair in the process of building a nest. When flightless cormorants get out of the water, they spread out their useless wings to let them dry. It is then that they look the most silly. There were lots of sea birds, crabs, and a massive bull sea lion. The tide pools were very cool, and the seascapes were magnificent. Tom and I love this island! We spent about two hours here.
Flightless cormorant drying its wings after a swim
After two hours further motoring, past spectacular landscapes on northern Isabela, it was time for our equator-crossing party! I wanted to practice the grand old sailing tradition of tying someone up and shaving their head on crossing the equator for the first time, but we'd all come from the northern hemisphere to get to Ecuador, so I was out of luck. So we all went to the bridge and watched the GPS turn over to all zeros, the crew served free cocktails, and Juan broke out his guitar. Who knew he was such a Renaissance man? We tried to sing along, but as the songs were in Spanish, we were pretty pitiful. The sun set as passengers danced on the deck.
Isla Isabela at the equator