Stu and I woke up early and stole up on deck at 4:30am to watch the night sky as the ship cruised along. With no light pollution we could make out millions of twinkling stars and the speckled expanse that is the Milky Way. It was magical.
We then sneaked back to bed for a short lie in.
The wake up call came at 5:45am and we were breakfasted and out on a boat ride by 7am. We saw more pelicans, penguins, sea-lions, swimming iguanas, and blue-footed boobies diving into the sea fishing. The sea was a bit choppy but that gave me the chance to practice my Hawaii 5-0 theme tune. Which never got tired.
We then motored into the Tagus Cove, alighted and climbed the wooden steps up to the edge of the crater rim of the volcano. The ground was mostly dark ash and there were petrified white trees everywhere. We saw lizards, mocking birds and dragons flies en route. The crater itself was actually full of greenish water. It was called Darwin's Lake. The surface was 2 metres above sea level but the bottom of the lake was 20 metres deep making it 18 metres below sea level. The salinity of the lake was very high and the height difference between sea and lake was actually due to osmosis through the porous ash bridge. Fascinating.
While we were on shore we missed the a pod of dolphins and an orca passing the boat. D'oh!
And muggins here slipped down the scree hurting my wrist. D'oh!
After returning to the boat to change into our wet-suits we headed back out into the Tagus Cove again to do some deep water snorkeling. We saw sea turtles, star fish, sea anemones, hundreds of brightly coloured fish and - best of all - swam with a very friendly sea lion. He even posed for pictures with me and came up to my mask to take a good look. When he bounced his nose on my mask it gave me quite a shock I can tell you! I laughed so much a swallowed a bucket of sea water. The highlight of the trip thus far. By far.
Back on the boat for lunch we had a briefing about the next day, lunch itself and a siesta while the boat re-positioned itself. Then we donned our wet-suits once again and took the pangas to Urbina Bay where we did some beach snorkeling off an ash beach. We saw sea turtles and penguins but the water was rather cloudy so not much else.
After that we went for an exploring tour of the island where Dennis did his amazing finch calling (the finch whisperer?) and we saw a poison apple tree, Galapagos cotton and empty tortoise burrows. The rangers had collected the tortoise eggs for their breeding program. More on that later.
Back in the ship for dinner the wind had picked up and we were a-rocking and a-rolling. This continued and increased as the night went on - waking us up frequently.