Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Isla Isabela

We enjoyed a very nice Christmas celebration aboard Chrokeva (thank you so much to Mark, Jackie, and Amanda). Other guests were Dave and Jean from Exit Strategy and Ken and Laurie from Trim.
On Boxing Day, we decided we needed to start moving south again. With a nice following breeze, we set out in the afternoon for Isabela Island, 85 miles from Mazatlan. Less than an hour out, we had spotted a half-dozen humpback whales. We arrived at Isabela right after daybreak, and we had the anchorage to ourselves.

Ashore on this National Park, there are no permanent human residents. There is a seasonal fish camp, and a marine biology and ecology lab from one of the Mexican universities.

Other than that, the island is completely dedicated to the needs of frigatebirds, boobies, tropicbirds, pelicans, gulls, and other seabirds. While we have not visited the Galapagos, this is how we imagine it to be. The birds are quite unafraid of humans, as long as you don't act aggressively or talk too loudly. We were able to watch mating rituals, and approach nests with eggs and chicks. In fact, it was hard to avoid a close approach. The birds literally nest on nearly every available tree, shrub, patch of grass, and rock outcrop.

This is the largest West Coast rookery for the frigatebirds. One interesting thing about these birds: although they spend most of their time near the water, they can't land on it! But they are very good at stealing fish from other birds!

There are two species of boobies here: brown and blue-footed. Guess which are which!

Talk about having your kids underfoot!

Here's a short video that gives some idea of why their name is so fitting!

Any spaces left by the birds are taken by iguanas!

Over the course of our two-day visit, we made several walking tours to different parts of this rugged volcanic island.

In the warmer afternoons, we donned snorkeling gear to check out the underwater realm. While the visibility was not spectacular, there was a good variety of colorful fish, such as Moorish Idols and Bumphead Parrotfish.

Finally, we had frequent sightings of humpback whales, breaching, spouting, and slapping their huge pectoral fins on the surface.

What a place! We plan to return in February.

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