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The dive guides will meet the guests at the airport and escort them to the Humboldt Explorer. Guests will board the vessel after pm. After lunch and briefings, the Humboldt Explorer will depart for a short crossing to Isla Lobos for a check out dive escotr safety briefing. After dinner the vessel will depart to the next scheduled destination.
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After lunch and briefings, the Humboldt Explorer will depart for a short crossing to Isla Lobos for a check out dive and safety briefing. After dinner the vessel will depart to the next scheduled destination. Isla Lobos: This is a short dive in a sandy bottom with the focus of checking the skills of every diver. Watch them zoom in and out and dance playfully for you! Sighting of Sea Lions and Marine Iguanas are also common. Following the visit you depart for the Northern Islands, a journey of over 16 hours.
Punta Carrion: This is a fantastic introduction to the rich waters that bless these islands. Here you will encounter your first sharks, sea lions and rays on great boulder strewn reefs. The coastline is barren and rocky with a few scattered trees like many of the Galapagos islands but sally lightfoot crabs brighten the rocks up with their bright red backs and blue and yellow faces.
There are also sea lions sleeping on the rocks and red kites and pelicans all around the Itabacca channel giving you a taste of the amazing wildlife that covers the Galapagos National Park. If you want to see sharks, you are at the right spot. The Mermaid had been leaking badly and King needed to find a shallow sandy bay where he could careen his boat to undertake repairs.
At a high tide, on a warm September afternoon, he ran the Mermaid onto the sands. For ten days the Mermaid crew worked hard before refloating the vessel. The famous boab tree is now 3 metres wide and National Heritage listed. A reminder of a by gone era of exploration! The metre-high sides of the gorge display varying degrees of weathering of the ancient Warton sandstone.
The colours and textures of the gorge change with the light as you travel further up the river creating a continual changing scenery that is simply stunning. This was the first of many delightful days never to be forgotten. On the 16th of January,we anchored at Porto Praya, in St. Jago, the chief island of the Cape de Verd archipelago.
The neighbourhood of Porto Praya, viewed from the sea, wears a desolate aspect. The volcanic fires of a past age, and the scorching heat of a tropical sun, have in most places rendered the soil unfit for vegetation. The country rises in successive steps of table-land, interspersed with some truncate conical hills, and the horizon is bounded by an irregular chain of more lofty mountains. The scene, as beheld through the hazy atmosphere of this climate, is one of great interest; if, indeed, a person, fresh from sea, and who has just walked, for the first time, in a grove of cocoa-nut trees, can be a judge of anything but his own happiness.
The island would generally be considered as very uninteresting, but to anyone accustomed only to an Escoort landscape, the novel aspect of an utterly sterile land possesses a grandeur which more vegetation might spoil. A single green leaf can scarcely be discovered over wide tracts of the lava plains; yet flocks of goats, together with dqrwin few cows, contrive to exist.
It rains very seldom, but during a short portion of the year heavy torrents fall, and immediately afterwards a light vegetation springs out of every crevice. This soon withers; and upon such naturally formed hay the animals live. It had not now rained for an entire year. When the island was discovered, the immediate neighbourhood of Porto Praya was clothed with trees, 11 the reckless destruction of saney has caused here, as at St. Helena, and at some of the Canary islands, almost entire sterility.
The broad, flat-bottomed valleys, many of which serve during a few days only in the season as water-courses, are clothed with thickets of leafless bushes. Few living creatures inhabit these valleys. The commonest bird is a kingfisher Dacelo Iagoensiswhich tamely sits on the branches of the castor-oil plant, and thence darts on grasshoppers and lizards. It is brightly coloured, but not so beautiful as the Sadny species: in its flight, manners, and place of habitation, which is generally in the driest valley, there is also a wide difference.
One day, two of the officers and myself rode to Ribeira Grande, a village a few miles eastward of Porto Praya. Until we reached the valley of St. Martin, the country presented its usual sandt brown appearance; but here, a very small rill of water produces a most refreshing margin of luxuriant vegetation. In the course of an hour we arrived at Ribeira Grande, and were surprised at the sight of a large ruined fort and cathedral.
This little town, before its harbour was filled up, was the principal place in the island: it now presents a melancholy, but very picturesque xarwin. Having procured a black Padre for a guide, and a Spaniard who had served in the Peninsular war as an interpreter, we visited a collection of buildings, of which an ancient church dzrwin the principal part. It is here the governors and captain-generals of the islands have been buried.
Some of the tombstones recorded dates of the sarwin century. The church or chapel formed one side of a quadrangle, in the middle of which a large clump of bananas were growing. On another side was a hospital, containing about sanvy dozen miserable-looking inmates. We returned to the Venda to eat our dinners. A considerable of men, women, and children, all as black as jet, collected to watch us.
Our companions were extremely merry; and everything we said or did was followed by their hearty laughter. Before leaving the town we visited the cathedral. It does not appear sandg rich as the smaller church, but boasts of a little organ, which sent forth singularly inharmonious cries. We presented the black priest with a few shillings, and the Spaniard, patting him on the head, said, with much candour, he thought his colour made no great difference.
We then returned, as edcort as the ponies would go, to Porto Praya. Another day we rode to the village of St.
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Domingo, situated near the centre of the island. On a small plain which we crossed, a few stunted acacias were growing; their tops had been bent by the steady trade-wind, in a singular manner—some of them even at right angles to their trunks. The direction of the branches was exactly N. The travelling had made so little impression on the barren soil, that we here missed our track, and took that to Fuentes. This we did not find out till we arrived there; and we were afterwards glad of our mistake.
Fuentes is a pretty village, with a small stream; and everything appeared to prosper well, excepting, indeed, that which ought to do so most—its inhabitants. The black children, completely naked, and looking very wretched, were carrying bundles of firewood half as big as their own bodies. Near Fuentes we saw a large flock of guinea-fowl—probably fifty or sixty in. They were extremely wary, and could not be approached. They avoided us, like partridges on a rainy day in September, running with their he cocked up; and if pursued, they readily took to the wing.
The scenery of St. Domingo possesses a beauty totally unexpected, escory the prevalent gloomy character of the rest of the island. The village is situated at the bottom of a valley, bounded by lofty and jagged escirt of stratified lava.
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The black rocks afford a most striking contrast with the bright green vegetation, which follows the banks of a little stream of clear water. It happened to be a grand feast-day, and the village was full of people. On our return darwon overtook a party of about twenty young black girls, dressed in excellent taste; their black skins and snow-white linen being set off by coloured turbans and large shawls.
As soon as we approached near, they suddenly all turned round, and covering the path esxort their shawls, sung with great energy a wild song, beating time with their hands upon their legs. We threw them some vintems, which were received with screams of laughter, and we left them redoubling the noise of their song. One morning the view was singularly clear; the distant mountains being projected with the sharpest outline on a heavy bank of dark blue clouds.
Judging from the appearance, and from similar cases in England, I supposed that the air was saturated with moisture. The fact, however, turned out quite the contrary.
The hygrometer gave a difference of This difference was nearly double that which I had observed on the mornings. This unusual degree of atmospheric dryness was accompanied by continual flashes of sanndy. Is it not an uncommon case, thus to find a remarkable degree of aerial transparency with such a state of weather? Generally the atmosphere is hazy; and this is caused by the falling of impalpably fine dust, which was found to have slightly injured the astronomical instruments.
The morning before we anchored at Porto Praya, I collected a little packet sanyd this brown-coloured fine dust, which appeared to have been filtered from the wind by the gauze of the vane at the mast-head. Lyell has also given me four packets of dust which fell on a vessel a few hundred miles northward of these islands.
Professor Ehrenberg 13 finds that this dust consists in great part of infusoria with siliceous shields, and of the siliceous tissue of plants. In five little sanyd which I sent him, he has ascertained no less than sixty-seven different organic forms! The infusoria, with the exception of two marine species, are all inhabitants daewin fresh-water. I have found no less than fifteen different rarwin of dust having fallen on vessels when far out in the Atlantic. From the direction of the wind whenever it has fallen, and from its having always fallen during those months when the harmattan is known to raise clouds of dust high into the atmosphere, we may feel sure that it all comes from Africa.
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It is, however, a very singular fact, that, although Professor Ehrenberg knows many species of infusoria peculiar to Africa, he finds none of these in the dust which I sent him. On the other hand, he finds in it two species which hitherto he knows as living only in South America.
The dust falls in such quantities as to dirty everything on board, and to hurt people's eyes; vessels even have run on shore owing to the obscurity of the atmosphere. It has often fallen on ships when several hundred, and even more than a thousand miles from the coast of Africa, and sady points sixteen hundred miles distant in a north and south direction. In some dust which was collected on a vessel three hundred miles from the land, I was much surprised to find particles of stone above the thousandth of an inch square, mixed with finer matter.
After this fact one need not be surprised at the diffusion of the far lighter and smaller sporules of cryptogamic plants. The geology of this island is the most interesting part of its natural history. On entering the harbour, a perfectly horizontal white band, in the face of the sea cliff, may be seen running for some miles along the coast, and at the height of about forty-five feet above the water.
Upon examination this white stratum is found to consist of calcareous matter with numerous shells embedded, most or all of which now exist on the neighbouring coast. It rests on ancient volcanic rocks, and has been covered by a stream of basalt, which must have entered the esdort when the white shelly bed was lying at the bottom. It is interesting to trace the changes produced by the heat of the overlying lava, on the friable mass, which in parts has been converted into a crystalline limestone, and in other parts into a compact spotted stone Where the lime has been caught up by the escrot fragments of the lower surface of the stream, it is converted into groups of beautifully radiated fibres resembling arragonite.
The beds of lava rise in successive gently-sloping plains, towards the interior, whence the deluges of melted stone have originally proceeded. Within historical times, no s of volcanic esccort have, I believe, been manifested in any part of St. Even the form of a crater can but rarely be discovered on the summits of the many red cindery hills; yet the more recent streams can be distinguished on the coast, forming lines of cliffs of less height, but stretching out in advance of those belonging to an older series: the height of the cliffs thus affording a rude measure of the age of the streams.
During our stay, I observed the habits of some marine animals. A large Aplysia is very common. This sea-slug is about five inches long; and is of a dirty yellowish colour veined with purple.
On each side of the lower surface, or foot, there is a broad membrane, which appears sometimes to act as a ventilator, in causing a fscort of water to flow over the dorsal branchiae or lungs. It feeds on the delicate sea-weeds which grow among the stones in muddy and shallow water; and I found in its stomach several small pebbles, as in the gizzard of a bird. This slug, when disturbed, emits a very fine purplish-red fluid, which stains the water for the space of a foot around. Besides this means of defence, an acrid secretion, which is spread over its body, causes a sharp, stinging sensation, similar to that produced by the Physalia, or Portuguese escirt.
I was much interested, on several occasions, by watching the habits of an Octopus, or cuttle-fish. Although common in the pools of water darwni by the retiring tide, these animals were not easily caught. By means of their long arms and suckers, they could drag their bodies into very narrow crevices; and when thus fixed, it required great force to remove them. At other times they darted tail first, with the secort of an arrow, from one side of the pool to the other, at the same instant discolouring the water with a dark chestnut-brown ink.
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These animals also escape detection by a very extraordinary, chameleon-like power of changing their colour. They appear to vary their tints according to the nature of the ground over which they pass: when in deep water, their general shade was brownish purple, but when placed on the land, or in shallow water, this dark tint changed into one of a yellowish green.
The colour, examined more carefully, was a French grey, with numerous minute spots of bright yellow: the former of these varied in intensity; the latter entirely disappeared and appeared again by turns. These changes were effected in such a manner, that clouds, varying in tint between a hyacinth red and a chestnut-brown, 14 were continually passing over the body. Any part, being subjected to a slight shock of galvanism, became almost black: a similar effect, but in a less degree, was produced by scratching the skin with a needle.
These clouds, or blushes as they may be called, are said to be produced by the alternate expansion and contraction of minute vesicles containing variously coloured fluids. I was much amused by the various arts to escape detection used by one individual, which seemed fully aware that I was watching it. Remaining for a time motionless, it would then stealthily advance an inch or two, like a cat after a mouse; sometimes changing its colour: it thus proceeded, till having gained a deeper part, it darted away, leaving a dusky train of ink to hide the hole into which it had crawled.
While looking for marine animals, with my head about two feet above the rocky shore, I was more than once saluted by a jet of water, accompanied by a slight grating noise. At first I could not think what it was, but afterwards I found out that it was this cuttle-fish, which, though concealed in a hole, thus often led me to its discovery. That it possesses the power of ejecting water there is no doubt, and it appeared to me that it could certainly take good aim by directing the tube or siphon on the under side of its body.
From the difficulty which these animals have in carrying their he, they cannot crawl with ease when placed on the ground. I observed that one which I kept in the cabin was slightly phosphorescent in the dark. This cluster of rocks is situated in 0 degs. It is miles distant from the coast of America, and from the island of Fernando Noronha. The highest point is only fifty feet above the level of the sea, and the entire circumference is under three-quarters of a mile.
This small point rises abruptly out of the depths of the ocean.
Its mineralogical constitution is not simple; in some parts the rock is of a cherty, in others of a felspathic nature, including thin veins of serpentine. It is a remarkable fact, that all the many small islands, lying far from any continent, in the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans, with the exception of the Seychelles and this little point of rock, are, I believe, composed either of coral or of erupted matter.
The volcanic nature of these oceanic islands is evidently an extension of that law, sandg the effect of those same causes, whether chemical or mechanical, from which it that a vast majority of the volcanoes now in action stand either near sea-coasts or as islands in the midst of the sea. The rocks of St. Paul appear from a distance of a brilliantly white colour.
This is partly owing to the dung of a vast multitude of seafowl, and partly to a coating of a hard glossy substance with a pearly lustre, which is intimately united to the surface of the rocks. This, when examined with a lens, is found to consist of numerous exceedingly thin layers, its total thickness being about the tenth of an inch. Escorr contains much animal matter, and its origin, no doubt, is due to the action of the rain or spray on the birds' dung.
Below some small masses of guano at Ascension, and on the Abrolhos Islets, I found certain stalactitic branching bodies, formed apparently in the same manner as the thin white coating on these rocks. The branching bodies so closely darsin in general appearance certain nulliporae a family of hard calcareous sea-plantsthat in lately looking hastily over my collection I did not perceive the difference.
The globular extremities of the branches are of a pearly texture, like the enamel of teeth, but so hard as just to scratch plate-glass. I may here mention, that on a part of the coast of Ascension, where there is darwinn vast accumulation of shelly sand, an incrustation is deposited on the tidal rocks by the water of the sea, resembling, as represented in the woodcut, certain cryptogamic plants Marchantiae often seen on damp walls.
The surface of the fronds is beautifully glossy; and those parts formed where fully exposed to the light are of a jet black colour, but those shaded under ledges are only grey. I have shown specimens of this incrustation to several geologists, and they all thought that they were of volcanic or igneous origin! In its hardness and translucency—in its polish, equal to that of the finest oliva-shell—in the bad smell given out, and loss of colour under the blowpipe—it shows a close similarity with living sea-shells.
Moreover, in sea-shells, it is known that the parts habitually covered and shaded by the mantle of the animal, are of a paler colour than those fully exposed to the excort, just as is the case with this incrustation. When we remember that lime, either as a phosphate or carbonate, enters into the composition of the hard parts, such as bones ewcort shells, of all living animals, it is an interesting physiological fact 16 to find substances harder than the enamel of teeth, and coloured surfaces as well polished as those of dzrwin fresh shell, reformed through inorganic means from dead organic matter—mocking, also, in shape, some of the lower vegetable productions.
We found on St. Paul's only two kinds of birds—the booby and the noddy. The former is a species of gannet, and the latter eandy tern. Both are of a tame and stupid disposition, and are so unaccustomed to visitors, that I could have killed any of them with my geological hammer. The booby lays her eggs on the bare rock; but the tern makes a very simple nest with sea-weed. By the side of many of these nests a small flying-fish was placed; which I suppose, had been brought by the male bird for its partner.
It was amusing to watch how quickly a large and active crab Graspuswhich inhabits the crevices of the rock, stole the fish from the side of the nest, as soon as we had disturbed the parent birds. Sir W. Symonds, one of the few persons who have landed here, informs me that he saw the crabs dragging even the dawrin birds out of their nests, and devouring them. Not a single plant, not even a lichen, grows on this islet; yet it is inhabited by several insects and spiders.
The following list completes, I believe, the terrestrial fauna: a fly Olfersia living on the booby, and a tick which must have come here as a parasite on the birds; a small brown moth, belonging to a genus that feeds on feathers; a beetle Quedius and a woodlouse from beneath the dung; and lastly, numerous spiders, which I suppose prey on these small attendants and scavengers of the water-fowl.
The often repeated description of the stately palm and other noble tropical plants, then birds, and lastly man, taking possession of the coral islets as soon as formed, in the Pacific, is probably not correct; I fear it destroys the poetry of this story, that feather and dirt-feeding and parasitic insects and spiders should be the first inhabitants of newly formed oceanic land. The smallest rock in the tropical seas, by giving a foundation for the growth of innumerable kinds of sea-weed and compound animals, supports likewise a large of fish.
The sharks and the seamen in the boats maintained a constant struggle which should secure the greater share of the prey caught by the fishing-lines.
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I have heard that a rock near the Bermudas, lying many miles out at sea, and at a considerable depth, was first discovered by the circumstance of fish having been observed in the neighbourhood. The most remarkable feature is a conical hill, about one thousand feet high, the upper part of which is exceedingly steep, and on one side overhangs its base. The rock is phonolite, and is divided into irregular columns.
On viewing one of these isolated masses, at first one is inclined to believe that it has been suddenly pushed up in a semi-fluid state. At St. Helena, however, I ascertained that some pinnacles, of a nearly similar figure and constitution, had been formed by the injection of melted rock into yielding strata, which thus had formed the moulds for these gigantic obelisks.
The whole island is covered with wood; but from the dryness of the climate there is no appearance of luxuriance. Half-way up the mountain, some great masses of the columnar rock, shaded by laurel-like trees, and ornamented by others covered with fine pink flowers but without a single leaf, gave a pleasing effect to the nearer parts of the scenery. Delight itself, however, is a weak term to express the feelings of a naturalist who, for the first time, has wandered by himself in a Brazilian forest.
The elegance of the grasses, the novelty of the parasitical plants, the beauty of the flowers, the glossy green of the foliage, but above all the general luxuriance of the vegetation, filled me with admiration. A most paradoxical mixture of sound and silence pervades the shady parts of the wood. The noise from the insects is so loud, that it may be heard even in a vessel anchored several hundred yards from the shore; yet within the recesses of the forest a universal silence appears to reign.
To a person fond of natural history, such a day as this brings with it a deeper pleasure than he can ever hope to experience again. After wandering about for some hours, I returned to the landing-place; but, before reaching it, I was overtaken by a tropical storm. I tried to find shelter under a tree, which was so thick that it would never have been penetrated by common English rain; but here, in a couple of minutes, a little torrent flowed down the trunk.
It is to this violence of the rain that we must attribute the verdure at the bottom of the thickest woods: if the showers were like those of a colder climate, the greater part would be absorbed or evaporated before it reached the ground. I will not at present attempt to describe the gaudy scenery of this noble bay, because, in our homeward voyage, we called here a second time, and I shall then have occasion to remark on it.
Along the whole coast of Brazil, for a length of at least miles, and certainly for a considerable space inland, wherever solid rock occurs, it belongs to a granitic formation. The circumstance of this enormous area being constituted of materials which most geologists believe to have been crystallized when heated under pressure, gives rise to many curious reflections. Was this effect produced beneath the depths of a profound ocean? Can we believe that any power, acting for a time short of infinity, could have denuded the granite over so many thousand square leagues?
On a point not far from the city, where a rivulet entered the sea, I observed a fact connected with a subject discussed by Humboldt. The layer is of extreme thinness; and on analysis by Berzelius it was found to consist of the oxides of manganese and iron. In the Orinoco it occurs on the rocks periodically washed by the floods, and in those parts alone where the stream is rapid; or, as the Indians say, "the rocks are black where the waters are white.
Hand specimens fail to give a just idea of these brown burnished ezcort which glitter in the sun's rays. They occur only within the limits of the tidal waves; and as the rivulet slowly trickles down, the surf must supply the polishing power of the cataracts in the great rivers. In like manner, the rise and fall of the tide probably answer to the periodical inundations; and thus the same effects are produced under apparently different but really similar circumstances.
The origin, however, of these coatings of metallic oxides, which seem as if cemented to the rocks, is not understood; and no reason, I believe, can be ased for their thickness remaining the same. One day I was amused by watching the habits of the Diodon antennatus, which was caught swimming near the shore. This fish, with its flabby skin, is well known to possess the singular power of distending itself into a nearly spherical form.
After having been taken out of water for a short darwi, and then again immersed in it, a considerable quantity both of water and air is absorbed by the mouth, and perhaps likewise by the branchial orifices. This process is effected by two methods: the air is swallowed, and is then forced into the cavity of the body, its return being prevented by a muscular contraction wandy is externally visible: but the water enters in a gentle stream through the mouth, which is kept wide open and motionless; this latter action must, therefore, depend on suction.
The skin about the abdomen is esxort looser than that on the back; hence, during the inflation, the lower surface becomes far more distended than the upper; and the fish, in consequence, floats with its back downwards. Cuvier doubts whether the Diodon in this position is able to swim; but not only darwiin it thus move forward esscort a straight line, but it can turn round to either side.
This latter movement is effected solely by the aid of the pectoral fins; the tail being collapsed, and not used. From the body being buoyed up with so much air, the branchial openings sadny out of water, but a stream drawn in by the mouth constantly flows through them.
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The fish, having remained in this distended xandy for a short time, generally expelled the air and water with considerable force from the branchial apertures and mouth. It could emit, at will, a certain portion of the water, and it appears, therefore, probable that this fluid is taken in partly for the sake of regulating its specific gravity. This Diodon possessed several means of defence.
It could give a severe bite, and could eject water from its mouth to some distance, at the same time making a curious noise by the movement of its jaws.
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