Galapagos Guided Tour – Gardner Bay, Hood Island

During our Galapagos cruise we are delightfully surprised by the turquoise water and the white coralline sand beach that reaches around the point a kilometer away. We see a herd of sea lions all lined up basking in the sun along the beach.

As we round the point to head into the bay a giant manta ray surfaces for just a moment, long enough for us to realize it must be at least four meters from “wing tip to wing tip”. Mantas and other rays do seem to fly through the water. We slow our engines and cruise along beside it amazed at how graceful this sea creature is. With a few flaps of its wings it shoots out in front of us and disappears into the depths.

We cruise in toward a couple of small islets (eroded spatter cones) in the middle of the bay and drop anchor. It’s lunch time! As we eat and enjoy our cold drinks we are able to take in the sights and sounds of this beautiful bay. We hear the bull sea lions barking to defend their territory from other males.

Spotted Eagle Rays, Hood Island, Galapagos

This must be the day of the rays! A group of Spotted Eagle Rays swims by along side the boat and we hover over the railing to get a good view.

After lunch we are into the panga and out to the beach. The sand is wonderfully soft and the water is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Some of the waves are even good for body surfing. Some of us just want to sit and relax with the sea lions, while others start to amble down the beach towards the point exploring. We find remains of sea turtle eggshells and some recent tracks. As we follow the tracks back from the beach we find a discreet pile of sand that hides the nest. This is a very important nesting area for the Green Sea Turtle.

Hatchinhling Green Sea Turtles, Hood Island, Galapagos

The Green Sea Turtles may nest as many as four times in a season, and each time may lay up to 80 eggs. You would think that would be enough to keep the population going. Unfortunately, they are faced with many predators that take a great many of the eggs and young. Feral pigs can smell a freshly laid nest and dig up the eggs. Once hatched, the young turtles are faced with having to make it to the sea from the beach.

Frigate birds and other scavengers consume large numbers before they make it to the water. Once in the ocean they face sharks and other oceanic predators.

I once sliced open a tuna that contained the undigested shells of five baby turtles! If the young make it to adulthood they face predation by man, both at sea and on land. Being a sea turtle is a tough life!

We spend the afternoon lazing around with the sea lions (keeping an eye out for the bull), wandering along the beach, exploring, swimming, and snorkeling.

Sea Lions on the beach, Hood Island, Galapagos

It’s been another wonderful day as we watch the sun sinking down into the sea.

Early in the morning the engines start, we turn over and go back to sleep knowing we are on our way to the next island…

Read more from our Galapagos Guided Tour

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