Santa Cruz Island
May 6, 2005
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Tortoise relaxation One of the two sinkholes... ... and Justin 
Had a lie in today - the wake up call was 7am. Phew. The water is still rough - the people leaving (the 6 who arrived the previous Friday) had a hard time getting into the panga, and one of them fell over in it!

Once we arrived on the island (which, by the way, is the one where most of the Galapagos human inhabitants live) we got onto a very basic bus a bit like an American school bus - and were whizzed up to the highlands. Once there we visited two sink holes which are caused by lava that flows along beneath the surface when there is an eruption, but where the surface is a bit thin it just collapses. They were very green and covered in trees, and enormous. After that we walked along the road a bit looking for the rare vermillion flycatcher. Mario spotted one flying around and as we all ran over it landed in a tree. It had really beautiful bright red feathers.

Next we went off to see a lava tube. These are formed when the lava is runny - the outside cools quicker than the inside and hardens. The lava that was inside continues to roll downhill, and a tube is created. You can go all the way along and crawl under the narrowest part but we didn't do that this time.

Then we went off to the tortoise "farm" which is actually just an enclosed area where tortoises are free to roam around. We saw lots of big tortoises, most of which were really shy but there was one who was quite used to people and didn't mind us crashing about near him too much.

For lunch we had a delicious barbeque at the Finch Bay Hotel. Really good food. Some people went for a swim in the sea or on the beach but we just sat around for 3 hours watching the birds and enjoying the rest.

After lunch we were taken to the Darwin Centre. Alex told us all about the tortoises and how they reproduce. The temperature around the eggs determines the sex of the tortoises - if they are below 30○C they are mostly male, and if they are above 30○C they are mostly female. The centre incubates the eggs and produces more females than male.

We were able to see some baby tortoises, and also some fully grown ones. Last of all were the giant tortoises which are absolutely huge and really lovely. Some idiots were moaning about needing more time for shopping and didn't even LOOK at them but just went off to the shops!!! How mad!!! The giant tortoises are lovely. They're just so big, and just sit there looking depressed. We liked them a lot.

This evening we saw some really small sharks swimming around the boat, but the highlight of the evening was the brown pelican who would land on our sun deck then jump off to go fishing for a bit, then return to the railings.


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