Isla Santa Cruz

Directly off the pier, we spotted sea lions napping on benches intended of people and black-tipped reef sharks swimming off the jetty. Only in the Galapagos!

Opportunistic resting place for a lazy sea lion, Isla Santa Cruz
Sea lion napping on the bench at the boat terminal, Isla Santa Cruz

Galapagos Fish Market

The fish market at Puerto Ayora was unlike anything I have ever seen, the persistent sea lion’s nose right next to the where the fishmonger was cutting up the fish, poised for any scraps. The lobsters and fish on sale are caught by on hand-lines to prevent over-fishing,

Line caught yellow-finned tuna, Isla Santa Cruz
Stall at the fish market, Isla Santa Cruz
Sea lion perusing the catch, Isla Santa Cruz
Hand-line caught fish available for sale, Isla Santa Cruz
Hand-line caught fish available for sale, Isla Santa Cruz
Hand line caught lobster, Isla Santa Cruz

Pelicans casting their eyes over the catch, Isla Santa Cruz
Waiting for the freebies – 2 pelicans and a sea lion, Isla Santa Cruz
The animal parade at the Fish Market , Isla Santa Cruz © Linda Hartskeerl
Sea lion getting a little too close for comfort, Isla Santa Cruz © Linda Hartskeerl

Charles Darwin Research Station

The Charles Darwin research station is focused on giant tortoises, raising juvenile and adults before they are returned to the wild.

Charles Darwin Research Centre with typical cactus in the background, Isla Santa Cruz
Mature Giant Tortoises, Isla Santa Cruz

Lonesome George was a male Pinta Island tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) and the last known individual of the species. In his last years, he was known as the rarest creature in the world. Despite attempts to continue the species with near relatives from Isla Isabela, they were not successful. After his death in 2012, his body was preserved by taxidermists from the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Today, he can be found in a climate-controlled pavilion, with airlocks and a 5 minute visitation period.

Lonesome George , Isla Santa Cruz © Linda Hartskeerl

Rancho El Manzanillo

Rancho El Manzanillo, in the highlands of Isla Santa Cruz, borders the Galapagos National Park. The ranch was established after the farmer made more money from tourists than farming! The well-run operation provided boots for all visitors to allow us to wander through the muddy lakes and the long grass where the giant tortoises forage.

The giant tortoises are relatively shy and exhale and retreat into their shell if you get too close. The abundance of food gives them more energy and they appeared to be more active than those at the Darwin Station.

Giant tortoise in the pools Santa Cruz highlands, Isla Santa Cruz
Giant tortise in the Santa Cruz highlands, Isla Santa Cruz
Giant tortoise in the mud pools of the Santa Cruz highlands, Isla Santa Cruz
Giant tortoise paw, Isla Santa Cruz
Pelican in an urban environment, with another on the roof beyond, Isla Santa Cruz
A touch of Christmas in the Galapagos, Isla Santa Cruz

That evening we received a tsunami warning, as a result of the earthquake in Tonga (11,966.87 kilometres or 7,435.876miles away). For our safety, we were requested to leave the harbour at 4.30 am. luckily, there was only a slightly bigger swell.

#buckletlist; #Galapagos; #travel; #nature; #landscape; #adventure; #intrepidtravel

Travel date: 26 December 2018

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