“Panga landing. 0-7-hundred.”
Sure enough, at 7am, as we motored off the sailboat, toward the beach, we spotted deep tread tracks running out of the surf and up the black sand. ATVs? Not here, deep in the protected national park!
No, these were the flipper marks of the sea turtle females who had crawled ashore, the night before, to dig a hole and lay 50-100 eggs. She’ll do this 3-9 times during the warm months of the sea turtle mating season.
The sea turtle eggs have many predators, from island rats and sand worms that attack the nest, to gulls and crabs who’ll hunt the new hatchlings as they scurry to the water for their baptismal swim.
Isabela is a very large, seahorse-shaped island. Because it’s circumference is so long, it’s impossible to see the large majority of the island, even if you stay in the main town. So, a sleepaboard boat experience, like on our Cachalote, is priceless!
It enabled us to get to Elizabeth Bay, where we poled our pangas silently through the mangroves,
and the only visible life comes from small clear inland ponds into which blowfish and white tip sharks wander through underground lava tubes from the sea.
|white tip reef shark in lava-tube pool
at Punta Morena
This geologist from our boat waxes beautifully about the poi poi lava:
And further north is Tagus Cove. Here, tall cliffs prevent sea turtles from coming ashore to nest, but we hiked to Darwin Lake, photographed Darwin Volcano, and, alongside some steep cliffs, swam for more than 30 minutes accompanied by a rambuctious sea lion! Did you know that sea lions have fingernails, just like us?