Life Among the Mangroves and Giant Tortoises

Today was our last full day on this wonderful adventure. Our morning outing was in dinghies to Black Turtle Cove (in Santa Cruz Island), which is shallow salt water with lots of mangroves growing all over the place. This area is a popular place for sharks to give birth – because it’s shallow and has the mangrove roots, the baby sharks can live safely for the 5-6 years it takes for them to get big enough to brave the open ocean. There’s lots of fish for them to eat there. We saw baby black-tipped sharks and baby white-tipped reef sharks.

Young Spotted Eagle Ray

There are also large marine turtles there, but they are very hard to photograph as their heads come up out of the water for just a second and then they are gone again. I was not lucky enough to get any photos of this. I did get a picture of the young spotted eagle ray that swam by our boat!

We also saw juvenile frigate birds – they are recognizable by their white chests and heads. These looked almost full grown in size and were a delight to watch as they soared around. And last but not least, I got a great picture of a Great Blue Heron perched on top of a mangrove.

Great Blue Heron atop the mangroves

After lunch, we went back to Santa Cruz to visit the El Chato Tortoise preserve. This is privately owned land that is dedicated to providing space for the giant tortoises that live on that island. We spent over an hour there and it was magical.

At the end of the afternoon, we visited the town of Puerto Ayora. It had a lot of wonderful shops that were fun to browse through.

Tomorrow we have a morning outing, but we have to get all packed up to go to the airport immediately after.

Us with a giant tortoise

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