Susan went on the pre-breakfast trip to Floreana this morning to go see the whaler's mailbox.
This barrel has been around for a hundred years. You can put mail in it and then you go through it and if you find mail to anyone that lives near you you hand deliver it to them. Susan sent a postcard to her mother in Nashville but didn't find anything in the barrel going to Atlanta. They saw a bunch of sea lions at the beach and on the way back saw a penguin swimming in the water. She also saw magnificent frigate birds and cattle egrets.
After breakfast we went snorkeling off of the islet Champion just off Floreana.
Susan couldn't come so I buddied with Win Goodwin whose wife doesn't like to snorkel. It was really great. Lots of different kinds of fish: king angelfish, parrotfish, damselfish, and others. Saw a sea lion just as I entered the water and then saw more that swam around us and got right up next to our faces. I took a lot of pictures. Also saw a white tipped reef shark that the sea lions would chase. Saw a lot of urchins and a bright red starfish. A funny thing happened involving a sea lion as some people were getting out of the water which you can read about at Lindblad's daily expedition reports page.
Scalesia - a daisy tree
In the afternoon we got a briefing on volcanoes from Paula and then went to Floreana. We went back to a lagoon and saw about 20 flamingos feeding. They were kind of far away but still impressive. They were very brightly colored. Also in that marsh was a galapagos pintail duck. We also saw a mouse scurry by and I killed a horsefly that was biting me (don't think they're endemic). Saw yellow warblers very close, 2 oystercatchers and a ruddy turnstone. I got a tiny piece of olivine, a green volcanic glass, from the beach. Carlos showed how you can look through binoculars backwards and use them as a microscope for objects close to the eyepiece.
We walked on around to another beach. It had fine white sand and is a favored nesting ground of sea turtles. We saw a couple of turtles poke their heads out just past the breakers. Carlos said he could tell they were male by their long tails. On the beach you could see depressions where turtle eggs were buried. Carlos found a dead egg that was half squished. It looked like a squished ping pong ball but not brittle like that.
Overhead, frigate birds flew very low keeping an eye out for turtles that might hatch and try to make their way to the surf. Matthew (Audubon's naturalist) said he saw them pick one up and then they fought in the air over it. You could clearly make out the red pouch on the males' necks. Also saw Sally Lightfoot crabs. We couldn't wade in the water because stingrays like to burrow in the soft sand.
Got an e-mail from Jeb today saying the dogs are fine and Nicole is settling in. Incoming e-mails are free but outgoing ones are $4 for 1k.