Unlike other mornings, when we woke up this morning, the boat was not docked. We had not quite made it all of the way to Fernandina yet from Genovesa. By the time we finished breakfast and got ready for our excursion, however, we were there. We went on a walk along the coast of northeast Fernandina, walking on sand and pahoehoe. The whole hike was excruciatingly hot, and our guide kept stopping to tell us things about the animals – unfortunately there was no shade for any of these stops.
We saw tons of marine iguanas, several of which were digging holes for them to lay eggs in, more Sally Lightfoot Crabs, plus some flightless cormorants, sea lions, a marble stingray and some lava lizards. Some baby cormorants wanted to be fed, and told mom by screaming at the top of their lungs and following mom around. We wonder if she'll want to reproduce next breeding cycle.
We came back and changed into our snorkel gear. It was amazingly clear, and we saw about 6 large sea turtles, 3 stingrays, 2 marine iguanas that were feeding on the algae underwater, and numerous fish (parrot fish and damsel fish are the ones we can name). The highlight, however, were that 1-2 sea lions played with us and one of the other passengers. He kept diving down and spinning around, and the sea lions would mimic his moves, except much more gracefully. We just sat back and watched the whole thing. The sea lion would come right up to us and turn away at the last minute. One time Justin actually had to move – the sea lion was going to crash right into him otherwise.
We got back for lunch, and then spent a good portion of the afternoon hanging around on deck – no siesta today. Our afternoon excursion was again split in half. The first half was more snorkeling. It was more of the same as in the morning, but much murkier this time around. There were some penguins, but we didn't see any of them under the water – only from the boat. The second half of the excursion was a panga ride along the western coast of Isabela . We saw a ton of blue-footed boobies, several sea lions, lots of crabs, lots of penguins, marine iguanas, ventured into some caves, all while avoiding bird droppings. Our panga driver had an ongoing gag with Phillip. At the afternoon snorkel, the driver slowly drove away as Phillip tried to board – it took Phillip about three times before he figured out what was going on. After boarding, Phillip called him a "jokester" in Spanish – the driver seemed to find it funny, but kept whistling at the birds and positioning Phillip under them so he would get hit by bird droppings. This continued on the panga ride, where we were sitting across from Phillip the entire time. The funny part is that we never came close to getting hit, but the driver escaped one time by about one foot.
We came back and cleaned up before the evening briefing on what we'd be doing the next day. We also listened to a talk on whales. Several people were surprised to hear that Killer Whales were related to dolphins. We were surprised to hear that Killer Whales actually kill other whales sometimes. A whole pod of Orca will swim around a whale and prevent the whale from surfacing to breathe. Once the whale has drowned, the Orca will chew through the throat and eat the tongue of the whale, then leave the rest of the whale for sharks to eat.
Dinner was outside because 1) we weren't moving and 2) the weather was good. We ate with three people from Great Britain as well as two of the tour guides, Elizabeth and Giovanni, and an Abercrombie & Kent liaison, Eduardo. One of the Brits asked what Eduardo's job was, and he paused because he didn't know quite how to answer it, so Justin quipped "He takes care of the Americans who don't know how to take care of themselves." Eduardo and Elizabeth almost spit their drinks out, so we take it they must have agreed. Eduardo's actual job, by the way, is to ask as a liaison between A&K group members (about a third of our boat) and the boat operator. When the A&K people want to do something, Eduardo works with Christian and the tour guides to see if they can work out alternative itineraries. Our guess, however, is that he politely deals with a lot of bitching and comes up with creative ways to politely say something is not possible.
After dinner there was a show. Several of the crew members came out with musical instruments and played several songs for us. Of all the amateur bands we've seen on this trip, they were by far the best. After awhile some of them started dancing, and then some of the passengers started dancing, and then people started grabbing "volunteers" to dance. One of the tour guides tabbed Crystal – she was about as willing as she was at the luau in Maui a few years back. She made it out alive again, though. Before it got any more crazy, we decided to call it a night.