Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Galapagos

I spent the last 12 days in the Galapagos Islands off the Ecuadorian coast. The trip was amazing, I took an 8 day cruise on a 115 year old sail boat to travel between the islands.

Our boat, the Angelique, had 16 passengers and departed first to the southern islands of the archipeligo. We were led by a 22-year-old guide and crew of 7. We would snorkel once or twice and have one or two landings on the islands to view the wildlife each day. From 7am to 7pm our schedules were packed with great activities. The food was fantastic. The best meal was fresh caught Pompano purchased from fisherman who were trolling the waters off Genovesa. We were very well fed and taken care of the whole time.

The animals on the Galapagos are notoriously unafraid of people which makes for an unforgettable viewing experience. They have no fear of humans and don´t mind hoards of the photo hungry nature lovers snapping away. The National Park rules say stay 2 meters away which the animals tend to ignore when they often times approach you.

The Angelique, our 115 year old sail boat.

A White Tipped Reef Shark on Isabella.

An endemic Giant Tortoise chomping on some grass on Santa Cruz Island.

A Galpagos Penguin. Endemic to the islands, its the only penguin found above the equator.

Sea Lions were everywhere. They were very tolerant and would only shoot a glance over at approaching tourists. They enjoyed playing with snorkelers in the shallow water. This baby Sea Lion wasn´t quite old enough to swim yet.

A Brown Pelican diving for fish in the shallow surf.

A Lava Lizard.

Blue Footed Booby. They were especially prevalent on Espanola. We saw them show off their famed Booby dance once. The boobies dive for fish and use an air sac on the top of their head to help soften the impact when diving into the water.

Red Footed Booby. We went to Genovesa Island which is pretty far north an thus rarely visited by boats. Genovesa is the home to a huge colony of Red Footed Boobies. The Red footed differ from the Blue Footed in many way, once of which is that Red Footed live and nest in trees.

Nazca Booby. Nazca Boobies are a bit larger than there more colorful counterparts. Once called Masked Boobies, the Nazca Boobies remain a pure white color. Nazca Boobies rarely raise two young at once because while young, the two nesting baby Nazca Boobies will fight, with the larger baby killing the smaller.

Marine Iguanas are endemic to the Galapagos and range from black to green and red depending on their diet. They can hold their breathe for extended periods and are often harassed in the surf by playoff adolescent sea lions.

Land Iguana, chopping on a cactus, Plazas Island.

A male Frigatebird on North Seymour trying to impress a female.

Sally-Lightfoot Crabs.

A Swallow-Tailed Gull on Genovesa.

We ended up visiting Santa Cruz(10/28 & 11/4), Floreana(10/29), Espanola(10/30), Santa Fe(10/31), Plazas(10/31), Baltra(11/1), North Seymour(11/1), Genovesa(11/2), Bartolome(11/3), and Santiago(11/3) Islands during the cruise. I also visited Isabella(10/27-28), the largest Island in the chain which features 5 volcanoes.

The view of Bartolome Island.

A lava field on Santiago Island.

A small island protecting a reef where we snorkeled.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carlito! I stumbled upon your page not too long ago and have been meaning to post a comment. Boy have I been living vicariously through you!! Luckily I will get to do some traveling in a few weeks to Ecuador, minus galapagos :(, it won't be nearly as extensive as yours, but enough to satisfy me for the mean time. So where to next?? Looking forward to future postings.

    -Debbie V