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45
 
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

20 July 2011

Sealions and turtles

15th July 2011

Wow. I’m completely pooped, but very happy. Just been snorkelling with sealions and turtles.

Earlier we went ashore to post our postcards in a barrel. The barrel has been there for over a hundred years and by tradition any passing ship would check the letters in the barrel and take any that were addressed to a port it was visiting soon. These days whaling ships and naval frigates no longer stop at Floreana island so tourists have to take up the slack. We took the only postcard addressed to the UK and will stick a stamp on it and post it when we get back (posting by hand is better, but the address is in Cheshire). And we posted our own couple of cards*, hoping that some kind UK travellers visit here soon. It’s not unlikely; each place we’ve stopped in the Galapagos has had between two and five other vessels anchored and even as we left Floreana more visitors were coming ashore.

There is a fixed limit on the number of boats operating in the Galapagos though, so it would never be busier than this. I think it’s judged about right: we are never the only boat moored at a given anchorage but we never feel too crowded while walking or snorkelling. Each day is a mixture of walks ashore and snorkelling in the sea, interspersed with meals on board starting with breakfast at 7am. You are taken out in small zodiacs (rubber dinghys) to visit the island or to snorkel, and at night after dinner the boat weighs anchor and cruises to the next island while you sleep. Our itinerary goes from Santa Cruz to South Plazas, Santa Fe, Floreana, Espanola and ends at San Cristobal. We’re very lucky, all our fellow passengers are very friendly and there’s nobody awkward or difficult. By chance they are also all really well travelled. Then again, perhaps the Galapagos mainly attracts people who have already been to lots of other places?

Oh yes, so this afternoon we did one final snorkel for the day and immediately found huge, gentle Green Turtles browsing on seaweed right among the waves breaking on the rocks. They are such placid and splendid animals, using their oar-like flippers to stay motionless in the rolling current while we were tossed around like flotsam. Maureen and I swam on a little further than the others, and were rewarded when a young sealion splopped into the water and swam curiously around us. Far too quick to get any decent photos of, he was just astonishing to watch. Joy!

* – alas, no-one told us about this old barrel beforehand or we would have brought postcards to send to everyone who has read the blog. We only had two, so family had to take priority.


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