September 11, 2008
I woke up this morning not feeling well. Maybe it was too ambitious of me to eat lunch and dinner yesterday. Even Gustavo was sick today. You know something is going around when it is not just the non-Ecuadorians who are getting sick. I was not feeling well enough to go on the day's survey.
A couple of the crew went fishing for tonight's dinner this morning before we got underway. They used only a hand line, a large sinker, and a hook baited with unusable fish parts from an earlier catch. No sooner than the line is thrown in and reaches depth, than they catch a fish. I asked to try and within seconds had caught my own fish. Out here where there are no tourists or fishing of any kind it does not require much skill to catch fish. I do need to add that we did have permission to fish as long as it was for our meals.
Later in the day I was feeling better and went ashore with Pete and Andrea in the Zodiac. We went into a cove that was full of mangroves and nesting colony of Brown Pelicans. The Pelicans build nests in the branches of the mangroves with interlocking twigs. We estimated that there were about 150 birds in this one area. There were also the ever-present Blue Footed Boobies. We landed and walked inland for about 400 meters. The lava flows were much smoother (perhaps because of less viscous lava) and had features that appeared to me to look like pressure ridges. It was much easier going than on previous explorations.
Later on Pete said excitedly "Look up!" Circling over my head was a Galapagos Hawk. I stopped and watched as he circled and then landed on a rock that was sticking up only a few of meters from me! He stayed on this perch for quite awhile just checking us out. He had such intense eyes and a majestic stance; it was another absolutely amazing creature.
Back at the tied up Zodiac there were three exceptionally curious and playful juvenile Sea Lions. I sat down right at the water and they swam to within less than a meter from me, curious, just to check me out. They would jostle for position, swim away, twisting, turning, and leaping out of the water, and then come back. They would take turns chasing and then be chased. Andrea got into the water with them. They would circle her, getting closer and closer, then swim away leaping gracefully into the air, only to return and repeat the game. Could these animals be doing this just for the joy of playing?
On the way back to the Queen Mabel we scared a school Flying Fish. Several hundred of the fish were leaping into the air, "flying" an incredible distance. The sun reflecting off the silver sides of the fish made it an even more amazing sight. The whole encounter could not have lasted more than a short 40 seconds.
Another rough transit this afternoon, we have been heading directly into the seas for several hours now. I am not sea sick, but I am not feeling well either. It is difficult to move about the boat, you can't take a step without holding on to something or bracing yourself. Here is how you go to the bathroom in these conditions. Standing, you set your feet apart braced against the bulkheads, one shoulder leaning against the bulkhead with the opposite hand braced against the other bulkhead. When finished you open the door and get pitched out into the narrow passageway. Sitting, again you brace your feet against the bulkheads as best you can, one hand against the bulkhead the other holding on to the pump/flush handle! When finished, open door, get pitched into the passageway. One good thing about narrow passageways is that you don't go far when you are being thrown from one side to the other. Just all part of the adventure!
We had one scare this afternoon. The Queen Mabel was at the rendezvous point where we were to meet the panga. There was no panga at the designated time and there was no response from the surveyors by radio. The Captain decided to back track and conduct a visual search for the survey crew. After about only 20 minutes we made visual contact with the panga and they headed towards us. The problem was that somehow the radio had been turned down and they could not hear us. Everyone was safe and they had no idea that they were missing.
We have a night transit to Santiago Island - goodbye Isabella!