Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sullivan Bay

Dolphins in the distance

Our first land stop on the islands would be at Sullivan Bay on Santiago Island. We thus began our visit with one of the premier lava spots. The extensive lava flows here are from the last quarter of the 19th century. The Pahoehoe lava flows, found only here and Hawaii, solidified to look like corrugated cardboard or an accordion. The rough terrain thwarted Linda’s attempt to join the walk so she stayed by the shoreline with some water and her camera. She did get a good sense of what the lava is like even from that limited vantage point and was still able to see the lava heron, Sally Lightfoot crabs and the finches.

Probably the remains of a tree consumed by the molten lava

Oven Lava

Lava Cactus - one of the pioneer plants
Another pioneer plant
On the walk we got some good close-up views of the patterns the lava left as it solidified. One interesting phenomenon was the oven lava formed when an air bubble gets trapped forming a tube or ball which cools before it opens. We also saw the remains of a tree that had been consumed as the lava flowed down the slopes to the ocean. Without soil, the vegetation is sparse with only some small brush and lava cactus beginning to grow. Over the next million years or so, these struggling plants will create enough new dirt to host less hardy plants and the lava will begin to disappear.

Sally Lightfoot Crab
Lava Lizard
Lava Heron
Small Ground Finch

On our panga ride back to the boat, we passed an area used by the US military to practice bombing runs during World War II. Our panga group has been with the ship for three days already and pointed out the trail they took to the top of one of the hills to get some greater views of the island. Later they talked about visiting a bird nesting area where they were able to walk within six feet of nesting frigatebirds. It’s hard not to be a bit jealous of that even knowing we will see some other sights and it just gives us a good reason to come back. 
Bombing Practice During WWII
One of the few other ships we saw.
Trail up the mountain

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