Galapagos 2002 - 02 Feb - South Plaza Island

02 Feb 02
At 7:15 AM we boarded the panga for South Plaza Island. There is a North Plaza Island but it is closed to visitors. After a dry landing, we walked a loop trail, first along the shore, then upslope to the southerly side of the island, and then along a cliff trail. I'd guess we spent the better part of an hour traveling the first fifty feet. At the landing there were Land Iguanas, Common Cactus Finch and exceptionally cooperative Galapagos Sea Lions.

The Land Iguanas here are a magnificent yellow and brown, quite striking, and larger than their cousins on North Seymour. While they aren't supposed to be tree climbers like their mainland cousins, we watched - and tried to photograph - them as they climbed up Cactus Trees to eat the blossoms. The less agile or energetic iguanas were content to munch the Sesuvium blossoms.

As you walk along the cliff edge on the southerly side of the island, hundreds of birds fly in to the cliff to roost, or swoop through. We watched Red-billed Tropicbirds, Wedge-rumped Storm-petrels, Audubon Shearwaters, Masked Boobies, Brown Noddys and Lava Gulls, while Magnificent and Great Frigatebirds watched for chances to steal something. Photographs were difficult, because the roosts were all below us. Only the Masked Boobies and Swallow-tailed Gulls were easily viewed.

Despite the cliff, this is a low, arid island, with Cactus Trees and a line of brush in the middle. You have no doubt this is a desert island as you walk it.

From South Plaza, the Samba motored to Santa Fe Island, along the way spotting a Short-finned Pilot Whale.

Land Iguana
South Plaza Island

Land Iguana munching Sesuvium blossoms
South Plaza Island

Common Cactus Finch
Medium Ground Finch
Yellow Warbler
Lava Gull
Ruddy Turnstone
Wandering Tattler
Red-billed Tropicbird
Swallow-tailed Gull
Brown Noddy
Magnificent Frigatebird
Great Frigatebird
Masked Booby
Lava Heron
Brown Pelican
Wedge-rumped Storm-petrel
Audubon Shearwater
Lava Lizard
Marine Iguana
Land Iguana

Galapagos Sea Lion
Short-finned Pilot Whale

Sally Lightfoot Crab

Red-billed Tropicbird
South Plaza Island

Galapagos Map
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