Santa Cruz Island (Photo Gallery) – The Galapagos Islands…..

We’re catching up on Ship’s Blog’s and Photo Galleries while we are awaiting the installation of our NEW ENGINES which arrived from Australia yesterday. Hopefully they will clear customs and be installed by the end of next week! We’ll be updating the main blog and photo galleries while we’re here! Enjoy!
Arrival at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
We got right to work removing the port engine which had developed an oil leak at the crankshaft and was performing horribly since it’s rebuild in Panama. I had to fashion a block and tackle to haul the engine out of the engine room using the boom as our “crane”.
Using two hard points we’d installed before leaving Los Angeles in 2007, we were able to use the ceiling in the engine room to move the engine into the opening of the hatch where we removed it and put into a water taxi to take ashore to have it inspected and crankcase seal replaced. We hoped for nothing more! – (eventually we would replace both engines due to the faulty rebuild when we arrived in Tahiti).
While in Santa Cruz (The main island of the Galapagos), we did two day tours. This one was to a private tortoise reserve.
The species of tortoise on the island of Santa Cruz are much bigger than the ones on San Cristobal that we had seen the week before.
It’s pretty cool being able to come quite close to the animals and really get an up close view. I’m 6’4″ tall, so you can see this is a pretty good size tortoise. He was estimated to be about 30 years old and they live to be well over a 100 in many cases.
Nik in the thick of it.
Here’s the inside story of what a tortoise shell looks like without the tortoise. This and several other shells are in their museum.
A rather unique perspective into a large tortoise shell.
While we were at the tortoise reserve, we also stopped along the way to walk through a 1 km long lava tube formed by the islands volcano (which is now extinct). Nikki wasn’t to keen on going the entire way when we had to crawl on hands and knees for about 10 feet, so I continued on alone and met her the on the other side.
Welcome to the wild side. Note the size of the spider in the middle of it’s web. The web was about 3 feet or (1 meter) across!
The next day we walked from the boat to the Charles Darwin Center which is the main public viewing area for Santa Cruz Island’s tortoises.
These guys are in a huge pen but have quite a great deal of freedom to move around. This was the home of “Lonesome George” who was believed to be the last of his specie when he died last year. However, rumor has it that a big announcement may be made within the next year and more “George’s” may have been found on the island of Isabella? Stand by, if so, it will make the “eco news”.
Just in case you thought these guys couldn’t be a bit foreboding? We weren’t even close by the way.
Long necks. This tortoise was curious about the people and came in for a look.
Yes indeed it was the Galapagos Tortoise that was the inspiration for the character “ET” in the film of the same name. I’m sure you can easily see the family resemblance.
On yet another day, we went to the island of Baltra. This is an uninhabited bird, sea lion and iguana sanctuary. Interestingly, it takes a 30 minute boat ride to get to and is in sight of the main airport on Santa Cruz Island.
It’s mating season and the male frigate birds pump up to attract a female. Talk about strutting your stuff….:-)
The happy couples. Two mating pairs of frigate birds – Balta Island.
Baltra is also home to the Blue Footed Boobie Bird.
Another happy couple. Kiss Kiss.
The males protect the nests and if you get too close, they are quite aggressive.
We also saw lots of both land and marine iguanas. The land guys are like this one. the marine iguanas are black.
Land Iguana, Baltra Island, The Galapagos Islands.
As we were departing the island, several Galapagos Sharks came to see if we had anything interesting to give them. They’re used to cleaning up after the fisherman. This shark was about 6 feet long.
After we left Baltra, our boat took us to a nice remote beach on the north side of Santa Cruz for lunch. Here Nikki fun watching the “Sally Lightfoot” crabs.
Sally Lightfoot Crabs are this distinctive color and are all over the islands. The name “Sally Lightfoot” comes from their ability to escape expert trappers and author John Steinbeck commented on them while in the Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.
Upon our return to Puerto Ayora, Nikki spotted this open air fish market where the Pelicans were waiting for scraps from the fishermen cleaning the fish.
Needless to say, Nikki saw fresh Yellow Fin tuna and for 5.00 USD, we bought half the fish. As many of you know, I don’t like fish, but I will eat fresh tuna. Why? It doesn’t smell at all and that’s what I don’t like about fish!
Nelson Mandela – Well, that’s what our main water taxi driver kiddingly called himself to all the boaters and tourists. He was a good guy and spoke English. Note Nikki’s fresh cleaned fish in hand.
Last Night on Santa Cruz. I have tremendously mixed feelings about this island as the anchorage is usually very uncomfortable and the tour boat operators are down right dangerous. I’ll have lots more to say about all of this in the blog, but we hope you got a feel for Santa Cruz Island – the main island of the Galapagos in this gallery.