So long, and thanks for all the fish
Santa Cruz is a 'must see'. It is the largest town in the Galapagos with a thriving, up-beat feel. Many of the best tours start from Puerto Ayora and most tourists fly here before taking boats to the other islands. There are plenty of examples of attempts to make the place 'interesting' or 'arty', including this street covered in umbrellas
We had expected to be motoring between the Galapagos islands. Indeed, our trip from San Cristobal to Isla Isabela required mechanical assistance for half the distance. However, the day before we were due to sail to Santa Cruz, a decent southerly wind sprang up. Reaching in 12-15 knots of wind, Skyfall devoured the 48nm between the islands and our passage here became a 'short day sail', dropping anchor around 15.00. It took a little longer before we could crack open the celebratory beer as this anchorage is notoriously 'rolly' and it is essential to deploy a stern anchor. (The boat rolls less if you keep the bow pointing in the direction the waves are coming from. A boat will lie at anchor pointing into the wind. If the wind changes so the boat lies across the waves then this can become unpleasant. Putting a second anchor out from the stern holds the boat lined up between the anchors). This meant launching the dinghy, lowering the outboard, digging the stern anchor out of its hiding place in the lazarette, etc. However, an hour later everything was set and we were ready to enjoy the island.
About thirty minutes walk from town there is a small park, home to the original giant tortoise breeding centre but also a research centre jointly funded by the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Smithsonian. Their primary goal is to protect native species and control invasive species. To do this they have had to develop ways to count and measure populations, promote practices to prevent introduction of new species whilst finding ways to eradicate unwanted ones. These are the guys we can blame for all that hull cleaning drama!
Navies used to 'seed' islands with goats, knowing that they would 'go forth and multiply'. Then, on their return, they knew that they had a known source of meat. This invasive species was one of the first to be eradicated, using snipers from helicopters and experts from New Zealand. Even though goats are big, just this one project took huge resources and five years work. Today, the biggest eradication program targets rats as they eat young tortoises.
There was also a great section on sharks. Like a fish, a shark breathes through its gills. Nearly all sharks need to keep moving to keep water flowing through their gills. The exception is the white tip shark, which has developed a pump allowing it to sleep, stationary on the bottom.
Skipper with a white tip shark