Day Thirteen (4/11) — Sombrero Chino y Bartolome

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Today is less about animals than scenery, though we certainly have a few animals to shoot, too. To wit, penguins. Our early morning walk took us through some pleasant shore area on Sombrero Chino, an island whose profile is shaped like a hat, thus the name. Personally, I got caught up in photographing a Sally Lightfoot crab that was working on his molt, as did Douglas:

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But if you look carefully, you can see other small things that are interesting. Well, maybe not that small. These grasshoppers are huge compared to what I’m used to in PA. 

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After our walk, we did a shore tour on the Zodiacs and found plenty of penguins, so after spending awhile photographing them on shore it’s back to the boat to change into swimming gear to snorkel with the little guys. 

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On our way to our next site, our captain pulled the boat up to one of the small nearby islands, which doesn’t have a visitation site, but does slope in a way that you can see its lagoon from the top deck. David did a quick hand-held panorama with his E-M1:

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After a lunch while cruising, we arrived at one of the most photographed scenic spots in the Galapagos, the pinnacle at Bartolome. This is basically a short and steep hike from a dock up a set of steps to the top of a cinder cone. The problem, though, was could we actually get off at the dock? 

Neither the naturalists nor the captain had ever seen the conditions we encountered: strong wave action coming from the North. Every other time I’ve been here the little bay we anchor in has been calm. Well, that’s not exactly true: on New Year’s Eve 1991 it was a rocking party with a ton of boats, plenty to drink, flares being fired into the air, and pangas being set on fire with people in effigy (look up the Ecuadorian New Year tradition). But the water was calm. That’s what I mean. 

Today we’re seeing huge waves breaking. So huge that we can’t see the dock from the boat! That said, a few hardy souls got into the Zodiac to the dock. Apparently the actual dock area was just rolling waves, so they set off to investigate the scenic possibilities. And this is what they found:

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Landings: Sombrero Chino is a wet landing in shallow water that is generally calm; for the scenic hike (there’s also a beach option that’s wet) the landing is at a dock.

New Sightings: The pinnacle. 

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