Furthest south Espanola Island

This is the final instalment of Simon’s 3 part journal of his recent adventures on Galapagos…

In the early hours we sailed to Espanola Island the furthest southern island. Rocky nights sail but one of the best sleeps ever which has to be due to the combination of activity, fresh air and the motion of the vessel.
The weather was overcast but warm with a slight wind very pleasant in my book. 

After yesterday’s brilliant experience snorkeling I chose to snorkel form the beach. It was cloudy water for the first 50 meters to start with which is a little disconcerting as you cannot see half a metre in front and you expect all sorts of happenings (human nature I guess) but on reaching the clear small island of rocks not more than 75 meters out the show starts. Not sure if you have seen Bed knobs and Broom sticks when you were a child (showing my age no doubt) where there’s an animated scene supposedly on the sea bed but it came to mind as I observed in wonder. 

As yesterday there were fish of all colours and sizes and in quantity too. I was advised there could be White Tip Shark but also informed they are not a danger (important if your a novice I think!). Any way sure enough there was a tail sticking out of a whole and must have been 2 to 3 meters long on a closer inspection. I have to say I was pleased I had an experienced snorkeler with me as a “dive buddy” which gave me an increased confidence and it goes to show that confidence is gained slowly and in steps as yesterday I wasn’t feeling all that confident and had no idea how I would react swimming a metre or so from a shark regardless of its supposed dietary inclination. Something negative in the back of your mind says I could be the first ever casualty and today it may feel like human flesh. But confidence grew and I stayed around longer.

Later in the morning we dived off the Zodiac at the sea cliff which was probably no more than 20 meters out of the water as Espanola is a fairly flat island. We swam in a group but I decided to hold back with my dive buddy Janet. Within no more than 5 minutes there were suddenly three young and playful sea lions there right in front of us. My first reaction is to real back a metre or two but then once again you realize they are not there to harm and are only inquisitive and friendly. I really could not believe still what I was seeing in front of my mask and they came so close, gently and carefully but with a lawful spirit. Janet dove down 10 metres and I filmed one of the sea lions diving with her all round her obviously wanting to take part in what ever was on the cards, game on as far as they were concerned. It was one of the most magical moments of my live. It happened again on three other occasions. If the trip was to end there and then no problem I was over the moon with this experience.

Unfortunately there are passengers who don’t like the thought of snorkeling and unfortunately they are missing out as far as I’m concerned and not maximizing their Galapagos experience.In the afternoon we took a track around part of the island and observed, two different types of Boobie – the blue footed type was as if a cruel person had come along with a tin of sky blue mat top coat paint and decided to cover the legs only, quite remarkable on first sight, and the Nazca Boobie. We saw a close up of a Galapagos hawk catch a finch of some sort and rip it apart not 5 metres away which is filmed in high resolution. We observed possibly three types of Finch, adult and baby albatross, lava lizards, frigate birds, sea lions, mocking birds. The snakes we came across were around half a metre, thin and blended in so well with the natural stone on the pathway. The most incredible spectacle were the marine guanas located all over the island hanging off each other in groups sporting salt residue from their nostrils. Honestly, I was just overwhelmed with it all and it was too much to take in.