Day 6: Isla Carmen and Isla Catalina

She Sits by the Seashore
This morning we woke up off the Isla Carmen, the only privately-owned island in the Gulf. It recently changed hands but has been held privately since before the rest of the islands were declared a park in 1916.

We had a kind of stormy wet landing at the mouth of the Arroya Rojo, the biggest Arroyo we have seen yet.
A live sea urchin
But instead of hiking up it we opted for the tide pool walk with Mike. He was able to point out some neat things like tiny oysters, bivalves, a couple of urchins, including one he picked up and let me hold in my hand as its spines moved around. We saw some molts from sally lightfoot crabs including one that was complete. He pointed out that you can tell a molted shell from a dead crab by looking for the eye covers. Dead crabs don't have eye covers. There were also some neat rock formations including a dike where a crack formed in the lava and was then filled by other lava. It was very striking and went across the beach and up a cliff. He also pointed out layers of lava that had picked up other rocks before hardening.

Lava Dike
Lava Dike
After the tide pool walk we walked a little way up the arroyo on our own and saw a very large dead cactus.

In the afternoon we repositioned off of Isla Santa Catalina (which should be Catalana, but in the 1800's the USGS got it wrong on their map) and went snorkeling from a beach with rounded rocks (many of them granite since Catalina is one of the few granite islands).
Red Starfish
Susan stayed on the boat, but I took lots of underwater pictures of the variety of fish: big king angelfish, rainbow wrasse, blue and yellow damselfish, giant hawkfish, puffers, plus a number of different urchins and sea stars including a bright red one that looked like wax melted on the rocks. I also saw a sea cucumber, parrotfish, shimmering light blue finescale triggerfish, and schools of smaller scissor-tailed damselfish. I had forgotten my old glasses to put in my mask so instead I did a lot of diving to get closer views. That's how I found the hawkfish hiding under a rock ledge.

Urchin and Giant Hawkfish
Later on we went on a hike up the arroyo and saw some new varieties of plants. These included the chain-link cholla, barrel cactus, reddish incense bushes, big red bull shrubs with papery bark, brittle bush with small flowers on long stalks, mexican poppy, limber bush (or leatherbush) and tried jojoba nuts (not good).

That night we had a cookout on the beach with an open bar. One of the naturalists, Steve, brought a guitar and played a couple of songs. As we waited for the full moon to rise William told us the story of the Aztec gods. But he must have angered the gods because the moon did not rise until we left that island.

Barrel Cactus Bloom Cholla Bloom
Barrel Cactus Bloom Cholla Cactus Bloom