Central Isabela

A murky morning but we rose early for a panga ride into the mangroves of Bahia Elizabeth. A training area for pelicans. Lots of turtles and rays in the shallow water.

Perhaps more interesting was the sealion which pursued the panga when we left the mangroves. It performed acrobatics all over the place; speeding under the boat, stopping and turning and jumping completely out of the water.

Swimming penguins and a somersaulting sealion

In the bay were some rocks covered in blue footed boobies; their feet a much brighter shade of blue than those on Genovesa.

Blue footed boobies

The sealion pursued out to the small Marielas islands which a breeding colony for penguins. Small groups of them stood around on rocks and , after much hesitation, hopped towards their nests or jumped in the sea.

The weather improved as we travelled further round Isabela to Punta Moreno. No landing here but our aim was to find a seahorse. Last chance to snorkel and some concern that the sea would be colder, but fairly similar to before and OK in our wetsuit shorties.

Some beautiful red kelp, a wall of large black sea urchins, plenty of fish including an endless shoal and a large porcupine fish, but no seahorse.

Perhaps because we were looking in the kelp for the small ones I’ve seen before, the captain of another boat (the Samba) found one almost immediately on jumping in. It was perhaps 10m deep and much larger; about 15cm. Too much of a struggle to get down there in our non-weighted suits though the guide managed easily. But clearly visible from the surface.

A large seahorse – perhaps 15cm

After that the long afternoon and evening trip to Puerto Villamil, Isabela’s town. Some beautiful views of the rugged scenery of the Sierra Negra and Cerro Azul volcanoes and a coastline of black lava flows and conical cinder cones.

Recent lava flows and cinder cones on the north side of Cielo Azul

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