Thursday, August 18, 2016

Galapagos: Tortoises and Sea Turtles

After such an amazing first day in San Cristobal we were even more excited for day 2! We knew a little more what to expect and I was happy that Asucena would be with us all day again, and Mike's hand although still sore and swollen didn't look any worse so we were sure nothing was broken which was a relief.
We had breakfast at our hotel and then headed out for the first part of the day. We drove up to Laguna El Junco, which despite the name, is a fresh water crater lake rather than a lagoon. El Junco inhabits a crater formed by the collapsed caldera of a volcano that has been extinct since the end of the last ice age. We were some of the first people there that morning and it was incredibly peaceful. Watching the frigate birds swoop down through the fog to rinse the salt from their wings was for some reason very relaxing. We also saw quite a few birds and learned about more plants on the hike up to the top.
From there we headed to Galapaguera de Cerro Colorado to see the giant tortoises. Initially I was a little disappointed that we wouldn't be seeing them just living in the wild like all the other animals we had seen but we later learned that the tortoises are almost exclusively in these national parks now where they are working on increasing the numbers of the different species. We were the very first people at this site which was awesome...Asucena was my kind of lady for sure :-). We walked around for a long time observing all the tortoises...eating, walking, fighting, laying around, etc. and also got to the little babies at the breeding center.
Then it was back to the hotel for lunch and a siesta...which for us meant letting the kids swim in the pool and watch TV a bit so we could all rest up for the afternoon.
Later in the day Asucena was back to pick us up and we headed to a new beach, Playa La Loberia. We saw many many more marine iguanas on our walk to the beach and sea lions were lounging around again once we got there, and then a sea turtle popped it's head out of the water! This was one animal we had yet to see and we were beside ourselves with excitement! Addie started taking off her clothes to hop in the water and snorkel that very instant but Asucena got us to relax, go put our things down and had us walk around to warm our bodies up before getting in the cold water (wet suits are a good idea in the future if we plan to snorkel more). The current was very strong so Asucena had a life saver that she took us out on one at a time. Addie went first and came back thrilled because she saw a sea turtle! Ella went next but they did not find any. I went out with our little waterproof camera and we saw one! It was so amazing and didn't seem real! Ella went back out and saw it! The boys decided not to go and Addie went back out for quite awhile. They did not see any turtles her second time out but there are still plenty of fish and sea lions. This day was hands down one of the best days!!!
While we took turns snorkeling the rest of the family would hang out on the beach and in the shallow water. The sea lions at this beach seemed a little more irritable than others we had been around and we learned quickly to stay away from the big guys because they were males and definitely more aggressive. I knelt down pretty far back from one sea lion and was taking some pictures of him and he totally looked right at me and started coming toward me. It was a little scary. I stood up and held still like Asucena had taught us and he never got too close to me, but they are definitely not just cute and cuddly :-).
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pouty Prest :-)
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another extinct volcano across the way
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the tortoises are so smart and respond to their names! I want one as a pet

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see the two back to the left fighting...
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spotted a little teenage turtle on the path :-)
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"snorkel practice"
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how many iguanas can you spot?@
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I spot the sea lion
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he spots me
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he gets mad and I stop ;-)
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whenever you spot the orange floatey in the back ground, one of the girls is out snorkeling
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she saw a sea turtle this big :-)
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I love this picture because you can see Addie and Prest playing in the sand, Mike snorkeling in the distance on the left and Ella and Asucena in the distance to the right.
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a disclaimer about my photos and videos...our little underwater camera is cheap and I could not see on the back of the screen what in the world I was aiming at. I wish wish wish I did a better job, but at least we have something. also the current was super strong and I am not a great swimmer so I am trying to float on the life saver, swim and use the camera with a mask on at the same time. I should have joined the kids for Addie's snorkel practice in the pool haha.
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our hotel there had schedules up for each party in the morning which was fun, this was ours from that day...
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