Monday, September 03, 2007

The Galapagos Islands

Giant sea turtle

White tip shark

Sharks anyone?

Nice place for a snooze

The great flamingo

Iguana crossing...

Big bug

Land iguana

Turtle egg

Giant turtle baby


300 kg turtles

Hungry pelicans waiting for fish guts.

It´s a hard life for the sea lions.

A booby chick.

Male frigate bird trying to attract a mate.

Sunrise on Symor Norte Island.

The blue footed booby.

Pelican

Santiago Island

Lava from an eruption 120 years ago.

New lava and old

New meets old

The only life on the new lava.

Santiago Island

The lava lizard

Iguana tracks on Bartholome Island

Crab

An old crater in the sea, Bartholome Island

Santiago Island from Bartholome

Same as above

The pinnacle on Bartholome Island

Santiago

Santiago

Sunset

A lazy sea lion on Sombrerochino

Sombrerochino

View to Ravida Island from Sombrerochino

Galapagos penguins on Santiago

A quick entry to the water from the boat roof.

A manta ray that swan under the boat. A bit slow with the camera.

A hawk

Marine iguanas checking me out.

Marine iguanas basking in the sun.

A marine iguana taking a stroll on the beach.

...keeping each other warm

...relaxing...

...and checking me out.

Ravida Island

A snoozing sea lion

Pelicans waiting for the leftovers from lunch.

Ravida Island

Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island

A huge lava tube.

An endemic bird of the islands.

An old volcanic crater on Santa Cruz.

A place of myth and mystery, the Galapagos Islands support a range of species not found anywhere else on earth. The animals have developed without preditors and so are totally unafraid of the passing humans. In the water the sea lions flit in and out of sight and enjoy appearing just centimeters from your face, just to make sure your awake. A tugging on your flipper could be a mate or another sea lion seeing how these strange fish taste. The large alpha A place of myth and mystery, the Galapagos Islands support a range of species not found anywhere else on earth. The animals have developed without predators and so are totally unafraid of the passing humans. In the water the sea lions flit in and out of sight and enjoy appearing just centimeters from your face, just to make sure your awake. A tugging on your flipper could be a mate or another sea lion seeing how these strange fish taste. The large alpha male barks and carries on a few meters away, undisturbed by our presence. On land the marine iguanas coat the coastal areas. Sometimes you must watch your step as not to step on them as they soak up the sun´s rays. The birds carry on with there complex rituals while we lean in to catch that perfect shot, the young ones squawk as if we may bring them a snack. The sea turtles, fish and sharks cruise calmly through the water, only fleeing if we make a sudden movement. The landscape is varied, the effects of catastrophic volcanic eruptions is evident everywhere, generally only scrub and cactus survive. On Isabela Island the white sand beaches are lined with laden coconut palms, large, cold waves roll up the beach from the south. A lone surfer catches a wave. The 20,000 inhabitants of the islands are mostly located in two towns leaving the rest of the islands free apart from the stream of tour boats that stop daily at a few places allowed by the national park service. Unfortunately the giant turtles are all but gone, only to be seen in areas where they are bred. The first settlers gorged themselves on the meat of these 150+ year old creatures. They need 25 years to reach breading age and thus the populations were all but killed off. The evaluation of the turtles has been so localised that each of the 5 volcanoes on Isabela Island has a unique species of land turtle. Even without these great creatures, the life is still there. Lava lizards dart in and out of the rocks and many insects and birds are always present.
After a week in this place it is obvious to see the effects humans have had and continue to have. Fortunately the Galapagos Islands are quite well managed now and will continue to be one of the wonders of the world.

Next stop... Machu Picchu followed by a 3 week race to my flight home from Santiago.

3 Comments:

At 4:47 am, Blogger Matt and Lori said...

Hey Ben,

You must be loving it! Galapagos was probably the best week of travel I have ever had. Very pricey, compared to the mainland but well, well worth it.

Looks like you went to a few of the islands that we didn't make it to. Have you done much snorkelling or diving? The water is suprisingly cold, considering you are at the equator. Who did you go on the island tour with? Do you have any pics of the boat?

The trek to Macchu Picchu will be a breeze for you but it's incredible. Lori and I highly recommend SAS Travel.

Take Care,

Matt

 
At 6:54 am, Blogger MARGARET NOVAK said...

those are awesome pics- marine iguanas are gorgeous!!

 
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