Home > Galápagos Islands > Bartolome Island, from the moon to the sea

Bartolome Island, from the moon to the sea

After the stunning views from the summit of Batolome, we start our descent, following the marked trail and still wondering how could a piece of the moon be transported to an island in the middle of the Pacific… but the answer is rather easy: in the Galapagos, it is all possible… Semi-hidden near a spatter cone we find a small “Brachycerius” cactus, of course “endemic” (meaning “unique to”..) Galapagos.  Once more the miracle of life unveiling right before our eyes… the little plant growing out of this ocean of harsh lava materials…

Vanessa points out a long and rather large lava tube descending from the summit to almost the shoreline.. it looks like a lava pipeline… the exterior solidified faster in contact with the cooler air, while molten lava continued flowing inside until the eruption stopped and left the tube empty.  The external crust, with the pass of time, starts breaking as it is made of fragile volcanic material and leaves the view we have in front of us… the tube descending like a serpent-like pipeline with covered and broken bits, leaving the empty interior exposed…

Now we are back at the landing place, the pangas ready to pick us up for a scenic ride along the western coast of Bartolome.  We go past a sunken crater, its full circular crater perfectly depicted just inches below the turquoise waters, one more magic sight… Along the tuff stone (compacted volcanic ash) shoreline, dozens of blue footed boobies wait for schools of small fishes, ready to take flight and, on a fantastic maneuver of superior aerodynamics, plunge as long darts, on a perfectly calculated 45° angle, into the ocean, to capture their food.  For a moment it looks as if scores of these agile seabirds start raining from the skies into the sea on one more spectacular show….

The beach is at a sheltered cove of calm blue waters, with an almost perfect crescent shape.  The sand is yellowish and thick, evidently it is of volcanic origin rather than coralline pulverization… behind the beach, a green fence of native and mostly low-lying “salt bushes” frame the scene and provide just small bits of shade… We make a “wet landing”, shoes off, and a short ankle-deep water walk from the Zodiac dinghy puts us in contact with the hot sand.  Time to strip off the expedition clothes (we had been previously advised that there are no places to change on the pristine, uninhabited island) so we all had our swimwear underneath our clothes. 

And now, time to enjoy one more encounter with the extraordinary marine world of the Galapagos…. This one, as every day, different and always exciting… we start with a refreshing swim from the beach to the center of the bay… Under the surveillance of the naturalist guides and the boatmen, we now turn south, towards the cliffs that surround the imposing “Pinnacle Rock”.  Ready now with fins, masks and snorkels, we follow the coastline and start seeing schools of parrot fishes, the magnificent king angel fishes with their white stripes, schools of reddish creole fishes and large groups of sergeant major fishes, all wearing their best colors and stripes… Privileged human creatures, us, we are snorkeling at the second largest Marine Reserve on earth, and a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site… If the colorful fishes weren’t enough, now we swim past three green sea turtles who idly drift towards the open sea.  The water outing highlight is still to come… suddenly we are engaged on a hide and seek game with the only penguins  living on equatorial waters… the unafraid and curious Galapagos penguins seem to have fun in dashing like super fast torpedoes straight towards us, just to turn away on split seconds, inches away from touching our bodies… They give us moments of joy and awe… On our way back to the beach, always swimming, two young sea lions join us as if telling us “hey folks, the animals of Galapagos welcome you, enjoy your stay here with us…..!!”

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