Galapagos: Tagus Cove and Punta Espinoza

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Day 8: We awoke in a small bay, Tagus Cove – we thought it might be a caldera because it seemed to form such a neat circle, with the rock wall completing about a 270 degree arc – but it is simply an inlet.

We made a fairly early 7:30 start via dinghy. As we sat puttering our engine by the brightly colored, graffitied rocks, some of us spied a cormorant with two young in a nest. “Where are they?” Sandy asked. “Where it says ‘Nadia,” I replied. We landed at a set of even stone steps, then walked over large, sandy-colored rocks where we had to be mindful to avoid stepping on two sleeping sea lions. I thought one in particular looked quite sweet, passed out like a dog on a hot porch – though my sentiment changed somewhat when I realized he was lying on his own feces.

By the sea lions, some much older graffiti was carved into the rock, including one name from 1924, and another carving that consisted only of the year “1836” – just a year after Darwin came here. Pirates and whalers were responsible for these first defacements. I wondered at which point graffiti changes its classification, from public nuisance to archeology, and when we could say the same for Nadia.

We saw two finch nests and soon came upon Darwin’s Lake, a salt-water pond formed by uplift. Striations marked the cocoa-colored hill across the water. Here again palo santo trees were numerous – though a larger variety than we saw on Genovesa – and we saw a few bitterbushes. Finches like to snack on the berries, but goats – of all things – find them unpalatable.

A long-billed (Galapagos) flycatcher paused long enough in a tree for us all to get a few decent pictures.

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That day’s snorkeling featured sea stars, king angelfish, and what I’m going to guess were green jacks:

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We made the short trip to Fernandina Island, and at 3:30 left for Punta Espinoza, home to huge marine iguana colonies. This was one creature that we’d mostly seen solo or in pairs, so far. But at Punta Espinoza, the reptiles were instead piled on each other in great heaps, as if left there by a careless collector to be straightened out later.

We saw more napping young sea lions, still beguiling in their puppy-like bliss, as well as one playing and splashing in a tidal pool. There were two Galapagos hawks, an adult and a juvenile; two flightless cormorants in a sweet courtship ritual of little beak kisses; and a female sea turtle in a rare beach moment. The ladies come ashore only to lay eggs and escape harassment from the men.

This is the seventh in my Galapagos travel diary series. See the rest here.

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