Sharks and Turtles and Penguins, Oh, My: Bartolome and Santiago

There was an optional early morning wake-up to climb to the top of Bartolome Island. I'd planned to do this, but when the alarm went off, the option of sleeping another hour seemed far more appealing than climbing 372 steps. Later in the morning, I did go on an excursion to Bartolome. A wet landing on one beach was followed by a short but steep climb over a sand dune to a second lovely beach. We saw a few sea turtles at the edge of the water there.

sea turtle

We also saw several white-tipped reef sharks in the water. Since most of us were standing in the water, this was a little disturbing, but all of us came back with our toes intact.

white-tipped reef shark

There wasn't a lot else to see but the beach was lovely and pristine. We trudged back over the sand dune to the first beach, where we swam and snorkeled. I was fine at first, but the area where most of the fish was was rather shallow and rocky and I got a bit freaked out about banging against the rocks, so went back to the beach.

Our final landing was at Puerto Egas on Santiago Island. This was a wet landing and it was a real annoyance to have to change into shoes. The first part of the walk was inland and we didn't see much - just lava lizards and a few moths. Daniel turned over rocks, looking for scorpions, but without success.

Eventually we reached some lava tunnels, including a formation that had water rushing in and out. Daniel called that "Darwin's toilet." In that area we saw a lot of fur seals, which are simply adorable. They're really sea lions, not true seals, by the way, since they have ears. By any name, they're cute, especially the pups.

fur seal pup

There were also several migratory birds, such as ruddy turnstones and whimbrels, and a few yellow warblers. But the real bird highlight was a pair of American oystercatchers with a chick. The chick is just a tiny little downy ball of fluff, blending into the scenery quite well.

American oystercatchers

There were also the usual marine iguanas, lava lizards and Sally lightfoot crabs. When we got back to the beach, we found our way blocked by sea lions. Daniel had to clap his hands repeatedly to scare them out of the way. Overall, it was a lovely late afternoon walk and more or less a summary of the rest of the trip.

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Copyright 2002 Miriam H. Nadel

last updated 20 January 2002
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