Galapagos, South Plazas

"This morning, we visit a small islet just off the east coast of Santa Cruz. South Plaza is a geological uplift with tall cliffs offering spectacular views. After a dry landing, the trails lead us through Opuntia or “Prickly pear cactus” and sesuvium. Here, we find the Galapagos land iguana which feed on the cactus. Toward the end of the cliff, we encounter one of the few bachelor sea lion colonies found in Galapagos. The dominant bulls are in various stages of recovery from battles they lost from fighting over prime beach territory. We also find swallow tailed gulls, shearwaters and red-billed tropicbirds who build their nests along the cliffs." - Itinerary

Most of South Plazas is covered with a sort of succulent plant that blazes red in the dry season, instead of showing its usual green coloring. Among the red succulents are a sparse forest of cacti not unlike the common prickly pear. We saw this cactus on Genovesa, but the species over there has lost rigidity in its spines due to lack of predation. The cacti on South Plazas still possess rigid spines because a resident population of land iguanas feeds on them.

Photographing land iguanas and marine iguanas on South Plazas was great because of the contrast in scenes of green cacti among red succulents. Some of the iguanas display a nice yellow coloring on their heads and ridges, but the ones we saw weren't old enough to really stand out.

Also common on this island were lava lizards and playful sea lions.