Isla Santa Fé and Isla Plaza Sur

Isla Santa Fé panorama © Jin Liew

Isla Santa Fe is a small island where sea lions frolic in the shallows and young pups call out to each other. As usual, their antics were the focus of our attention and with a combination of phones, small and SLR cameras trained on their every move. One sea lion managed to take a sniff of a bag that was lying on the beach.

Young sea lion grooming , Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Young sea lion grooming, Isla Santa Fé
Young sea lion posing for the human paparazzi, Isla Santa Fé
Young sea lion, Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Sea lion investigating one of our bags, Isla Santa Fé

Only a short walk from the beach brings you into opuntia cacti country, where yellow-tinged land iguanas co-exist with sea lions and lava lizards. While cacti are normally associated with the desert, there it was in abundance in an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Opuntia cacti on Isla Santa Fe
Opuntia cacti on Isla Santa Fe © Linda Hartskeerl

The land iguanas with their yellow faces and barnacled forehead soak up the sun’s rays and keep their bodies close to the ground to absorb as much heat as possible. Their red conical spines and red-brown back mean they blend well into the landscape.

Land iguana, Isla Santa Fé
Land iguana, Isla Santa Fé
Land iguana, Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Land iguana, Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Iguana, Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Land iguana, Isla Santa Fé
Land iguana, Isla Santa Fé

In the distance, there were a few blue-footed boobies who were clinging to the rocks and showing off their bright blue feet – one of the iconic animals of the Galapagos.

Blue footed booby, Isla Santa Fé

The power of ocean currents was demonstrated when as a result of the recent storms and human habitat, we found evidence of plastic on a normally pristine beach. So, we did our small bit by picking up bits of plastic (easily discernible among the twigs and shells of the beach). The refuse was then transferred back to our boat where each week the National Park officials come to weigh and collect the ships’ rubbish after it is sorted. The rubbish from all the boats is then transported back to the Guayaquil into landfill.

Isla Plaza Sur

Although Isla Plaza Sur is small at only 0.13 square kilometres in area, there was a strong concentration of opuntia cacti. Whilst exploring the island, we saw the sea lions of the ‘Gentleman’s Club’ who are the non-dominant males with each having their own patch on the cliff top with a stunning view of the sea below. The walk up probably took us about 20 minutes on foot, I wonder how long the sea lion would have taken to climb up?

“Gentleman’s club” sea lion on cliffs on Isla Plaza Sur

Other wildlife in evidence included red-billed tropicbirds, red-footed and Nazca boobies and sea lions all nursing their young.

Cliffs off Isla Plaza Sur
Capturing the nectar, Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Swallow-tailed gull, Isla Santa Fé
Isla Santa Fé © Linda Hartskeerl
Isla Santa Fe and Isla Plaza Sur © Linda Hartskeerl

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

Travel date: 27 December 2018

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