Monday, April 30, 2012

A Day of Frustration

When we woke up this morning, we saw that we were docked in the harbor of a small tourist town called Port Elizabeth.  I was exhausted from staying up late the night before.  Last night, the boat was rocking violently back and forth and the drowsiness side effect of the sea sickness medicine I took still lingered in the morning.  So, as you can guess, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, and seeing a town where I expected another remote island didn’t help.  Today we had three activities, a tiring hike in the morning, a rather unappealing snorkel experience, and a hot hike back from a giant tortoise research center.        

When I realized that the first activity was a hike, I felt a little bit frustrated because the hardest thing for me to do while I am in a drowsy state is none other than a hike.  Luckily, I was too tired to take my annoyance out on anybody.  Nonetheless, I was able to stay upright for the hike.  Finally, the hike ended and I almost collapsed into the dingy leading away from the small lava island.  I was excited that next we would go snorkeling.

Sadly, I did not connect the dots that we would go snorkeling in the harbor.  We snorkeled and saw sea lions, penguins, and quite a bit of trash.  The sea lions and penguins were really fun to see, but I normally prefer a more remote snorkel environment.  In fact, I could smell the exhaust from all the motor boats in the water. 

The next activity took place in the hot sun.  The plan was to take a dingy to the dock and a bus to a giant tortoise research center.  In this research center, the scientists breed endangered giant tortoise subspecies and introduce them into the wild.   I saw many cool turtles but did not like walking back to the town in the hot sun. 


Well, the Galapagos trip is almost done and tonight we are going to have Susie’s birthday party.  Tomorrow morning we wake up in harbor of Puerto Ayora. But tonight is the last dinner of the cruise!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!     

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Swimming with the Turtles

We are still in the Galapagos and are pretty much getting our minds blown daily.  I am loving the trip and it’s hard to think of life off the boat.  It will be a shock when the live-aboard ends and we are forced to leave the Daphne!  I am pretty sure I will feel swells in my hotel room back in Quito, if you get my reckoning!  Today, we explored a lagoon in the dingy and walked upon a vast field of lava, but the best activity was, by far, the snorkel excursion in the late morning. 

Brad and Susie

Once all of us had our wet suits on, the dingy left the Daphne for what would be our coolest snorkel experience yet in the Galapagos.  For quite a long time, we motored until the dingy finally started to slow down.  For a second, I was confused.  Normally,  we snorkel in small bays or off of a beach, but in front of me was a labyrinth.  Hundreds of lava rock islands and boulders made up a maze of clear, and in places shallow, water.   At this time, the sun was under a cloud, the wind had started up, and I was a little intimidated at the thought of jumping in.  Nonetheless,  all of us were soon snorkeling around in the maze, and peaking into the underwater world.

At first, we were disappointed because a thick layer of murky water blocked our vision.  Andrew discovered that if you dive down, the visibility becomes amazing.  I did not believe him and was shocked to see the world around me come into focus as I skin dived.  As I looked, I was amazed at the sheer quantity of turtles I saw.  Around every bend I saw two or three gently swimming below me.  Towards the end of the dive, Andrew wanted to show me something.  After strenuously crossing a three foot long channel of about six inch deep water, I came upon a deep pool swarming with even more turtles!  The diameter of this pool was about twenty yards, and inside were at least twenty turtles.  My guess is that they entered through the channel at high tide, and when the tide fell, were stuck inside the pool until the tide rose again.  I was able to dive down and get some sick photos of some turtles hiding under a rock.  Sadly, we could not stay forever, and Efrain indicated to us that it was time to go.  Thus, we said goodbye to the labyrinth of turtles, and motored back to the Daphne.

I loved all the other activities our group undertook today, but the snorkeling was just fabulous!  I have never snorkeled in such an environment, or seen so many turtles!   I hope tomorrow is as good.

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

More Iguanas!!

We only have three more days until the end of the cruise, but I try not think about it!  I know I keep saying this, but I love seeing all my adult friends and family, especially after being left with only my parents for eleven months.   Today, I went on a wonderful hike and saw two new quintessential Galapagos animals, and a magical turtle surprise.

Today, we did two hikes.  I thought the afternoon hike was the best of the trip so far!  During this hike we walked along a dirt path surrounded by several trees and plants.  I loved the extra shade, but it was not only me who was interested in cooling down.  During this hike we saw the mighty Galapagos Giant Tortoise.  I was able to get really close and got some amazing shots! 

I liked the turtles, but my favorite animal was by far the Land Iguana.  This giant lizard looks just like the Marine Iguana except that it is bigger and more yellow.  These are less common than the Marine Iguana and we did not find them in groups.  We saw about four or five Land Iguanas over our one hour hike.  Soon, the trail emerged back onto the beach where we had originally landed.

As were walking along the beach, my mom excitedly pointed at the sand.  Crawling into the ocean from the beach was a group of about fifty baby sea turtles.  Each one was about an inch and a half long. They used their little flippers to grab the sand and thrust themselves forward. I was glad that all of them made it into the ocean!  Efrain told us that many babies will die in the ocean and that only one percent of baby sea turtles make it to adulthood.  He was shocked to see this group of young turtles.  He told us that seeing this was so rare, he hadn’t ever seen it in twenty three years of guiding.  It really stunk that my camera battery was already dead.  However, I felt honored to see such an event, and wished the youngsters luck in the open sea! 

I keep thinking each day is better than the last, but today will always be in my memory as a spectacular Galapagos experience.   The tortoises were cool, and so were the Iguanas, but the baby turtles were just groovey!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!                

Friday, April 27, 2012

Island of Penguins

Hello fans, readers, and families!  As you know, we are currently undertaking a Galapagos cruise that is turning out to be a great success!  Every night, the entire group laughs, eats dinner, and gets to know each other better!  Today, we saw some impressive birds, weather, and fish! 

In the morning, after a quick breakfast, we ventured out in the dingy to look for birds.  As we began the ride, fog started to accumulate around the dingy.  We could just barely see the great cliffs lining the cove where the Daphne was docked.  And even the Daphne itself vanished behind us in the dense fog.  Soon, we were close enough to the cliffs to see them clearly.  They were about thirty meters high and, despite the eerie and dark fog, were covered in cheerful animals!  In places, giant surf pounded against the wall of volcanic rock.  As we watched, we saw many birds, but my favorites were the Blue Footed Boobies and the Flightless Cormorant.  I also liked seeing the penguins, both swimming in the water and standing proud on rocks.  At one point in the expedition, the boat motored inside a big cave.  I found this even more eerie and was happy to leave.  Later, our guide took us snorkeling in the area and we saw a couple of turtles, and some schools of fish.  The water was downright freezing and the visibility was only so so.  Neither did we know, there was better snorkeling ahead!  And so we left in the mighty boat the Daphne with three hours ahead of us until we would arrive in Togus Cove.

The Blue Footed Booby
The Daphne in the Mist

About a half an hour into our ride, Efrain stopped the Daphne.  Just off the boat, all of us could see a group of about ten fins slowly coming closer.  Our guide told us that these were the legendary Oceanic Sunfish.  I gasped!  I had heard about this fish before.  The Sunfish may be the weirdest and the rarest fish in the Galapagos.  The Sunfish is a circular marine swimmer with a diameter of about two meters.  It reminds me the most of a sea turtle swimming on his side.  On the top of the circular Sunfish is a long, thin dorsal fin with a matching fin below. The top fin was what the guide claimed we were staring at.  My dad stirred.  Then, finally, Dad asked our guide, Efrain, if we could take the dingy and go snorkel with the Sunfishes.  We all thought the idea was downright wacky, but somehow my dad, Andrew, Svetlana, and I found ourselves on a dingy, in the middle of the ocean.  Svetlana and I had only come to look from the boat and were still cold from the earlier snorkel.  Kasplosh!  Dad and Andrew were swimming only a couple feet from the Sunfish!  I was so excited for them and was sad that I did not get to see these legendary guardians of the sea. 

Finally, after sailing for a couple more hours, we came to Togus Cove  Here, we planned to spend the night and, for the time being, go out on yet another snorkel adventure!  Again, the magical dingy dropped us off in the water for our last snorkel of the day.  The water was cold but warmer than our first snorkel experience of the day.  It also helped that here, the sun shone bright and clear!  During this snorkel, we saw much amazing marine life.  I saw maybe five turtles, one penguin swimming under water and three above and, my favorite, the scorpion fish!

A Curious Flightless Cormorant
Can You Find the Scorpion Fish?

I am back on the boat and have warmed myself up!  I am getting an early start on the blog while my parents and the rest of the group are out on a hike.  While I write, I am remembering the amazing day!

Susie, Mom and Andrew Warming Up

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Close Encounter with Magic Lizards

We are currently motoring across the ocean, after a rather relaxing day.  The majority of this day was spent on the boat chillin' and motoring from the island of Genovesa to Isabella.  In the morning, however, we did venture out to see one of my favorite animals of all the coastal world, the Galapagos Marine Iguana. 


After a slightly brutal 6:30 wake up, we left in the dingy for what looked like a black mass.  As we got closer, we realized the black mass was sand!  Once the dingy had pulled up on the black sand beach and everyone was unloaded, Peter pointed out to me a real Marine Iguana!  It looked just like the one two days ago, except this one was more calm and minded our presence less.  Again, our guide led us along a a hot and grassy trail.  After about five minutes, the trail reached its end.  From there, we followed another beach, this one made of volcanic rock.  The entire beach was littered with tide pools, being constantly refilled by the smashing tides.  As I looked at the beach, I realized that in every pool and crawling on every volcanic rock stood thousands of Marine Iguanas.  I was stunned at the amazing quantity of these massive lizards!   They bathed in tide pools or snuggled close to one another.  I could totally tell that the iguanas had families, friends, and almost communities.  There was never one iguana by himself; there were always at least five whenever we saw them.  I loved watching these marine reptiles, but they were not the only attraction.

Towards the end of the hike, the gang came upon some striking natural architecture, inhabited by many interesting animals.  Our group stopped by the edge of a long and narrow slough, leading thirty meters into the beach.  On either sides of this slough were cliffs rising five meters above the water.  Leading across the shallow gorge, were two bridges created of only volcanic rock!  I was stunned and wondered how the lava bridge came to be.  As we crossed, we saw seals playing in the water and splashing about below us.  As we looked closer, we even saw an orange colored green sea turtle!  Soon, the trail led us back to the dingy, and we were heading back towards the Daphne.

I loved seeing all the Iguanas and was amazed by the natural lava bridge!  It was also good to have some time to relax for the rest of the day!  I wonder what tomorrow will be like!

Crossing the Equator

RoGeo News:
Tonight we are having Mom’s fiftieth birthday party!  It is a Seventies costume party and I am all geared up! :)

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!