"I hear the birds singing in Caleta Tortuga and the fish jumping and the sun slowly sinking down behind gray clouds turning pink with the three quarter moon reflecting in the still waters." - My Journal
Black Turtle Cove
is a mangrove swamp on the north shore of Santa Cruz Island. We anchor our boat at the entrance to the cove and enter the area in our
panga or dinghy. In the smaller and most interesting areas of the cove it is prohibited to use a motor so we paddle the dinghy for a wonderfully quiet journey through this beautiful and unique area.
There are a number of small passageways that without our guide
we would be unable to find.
We move some branches of a mangrove tree and duck under a branch as our guide and
marinero maneuvers us through a very small passage. This is a great place to see large schools of Golden Rays, Green Sea Turtles (they are on the rare and endangered species list), White-tipped Sharks, Galapagos Sharks, Lava Herons, Yellow Warblers and a variety of other bird species.
Golden Rays in Caleta Tortuga Negra
© Jeff Waugh
It is not uncommon to see the Green Sea Turtles mating in the cove prior to nesting, and we seem to be here at the right time. However, this mating is in preparation for laying 2-3 years later. They are able to accomplish this through
delayed implantation. The peak season for copulation is January while February is the peak for nesting on Galapagos beaches. These Green Sea Turtles only lay up to 80 eggs at a time - the least number of any of the sea turtles and females may lay only once in a lifetime. There is also some predation from feral pigs, frigate birds, and sharks. Despite this, they seem to be doing well in Galapagos.
The Lava Heron is a species endemic (or found only in) Galapagos. We see one standing motionless on a lava rock waiting for the opportunity to grasp a passing fish with its bill. Lava Herons feed on small fish, lizards and crabs.
Upon returning to our boat after a few hours in the cove we are all ready for a cold drink and a great home cooked meal.
Jeff Waugh Lava Heron
© Jeff Waugh
Sunset over Rabida Island
|Our anchorage is just outside the
caleta in a wonderfully cool breeze that keeps the mosquitos away. We enjoy
our meal and sunset on deck aboard the boat. We
will anchor here for most of the night and set sail early in the morning...
To Sullivan Bay