Sunday, December 27, 2009

Galapagos Trip (Photos, Mostly)

Blue-footed boobies on the island of North Seymour.

I just finished a cruise to the Galapagos, on the National Geographic Endeavor, with my family. As expected, it was a fantastic trip. The Galapagos archipelago consists of 13 major and 6 minor islands; including its total marine area it covers 53,300 sq. miles (roughly the same total area as the state of Arkansas).

Our ship hit over half the major islands and one or two of the minor islands. Overall, we saw more birds than any other species of animal, including blue-footed and Nasca boobies, red frigates, and waved albatross, though we did see, too, many sea lions, marine and land iguanas, lava lizards, penguins, green sea turtles, giant Galapagos tortoises, varieties of crab, manta rays, ocean sunfish (mola mola), salima, and so forth.

One of the most amazing things about seeing all this wildlife was definitely the no-fear factor. Virtually nothing we came across cared that we were so close to them, and in many cases we had to step over or around them – all of the time, however, we had to stay strictly on marked trails and not intrude on their habitats. That didn’t stop them from crowding our trails, which are part of their home, of course.

There's just so much that I could say about this trip, but for the sake of time and space -- and because I don't want to bore people too much -- I'm going to upload a sample of photos from this trip. In the case of the Galapagos, I think that pictures may after all speak louder than words.

More blue-footed boobie mating rituals.

A red frigate bird, also on North Seymour.

A field of nesting and resting birds, with more flying overhead.

Lava cacti on a dried patch of rope lava.

We saw ocean sunfish (mola mola) from our Zodiac. This one waved its upper dorsal fin constantly. These are terrifically weird-looking fish.

A fur seal sleeping on a rocky ledge above a shallow pool.

A juvenile hawk found us interesting, or suspicious, or both.

A colorful land iguana, not far from its hole.

A colorful Sally Lightfoot crab.

A striated heron on Isla Santiago.

This finch had bizarre feeding habits. It would jump and flip around, and zigzag its head everywhere, trying to catch tiny bugs.

A flightless cormorant making use of its long neck to scratch its back.

A flightless cormorant drying its flimsy wings.

These beautiful cliffs on Isla Isabela were home to many birds.

A brown notty perched on a small rock on the face of a cliff.

Blue-footed boobies were in the same area.

On Isla Santa Cruz we visited a migratory route for giant tortoises.

As you can see, they were very large.

This guy is called "Lonesome George." He's the very last of his species and lives at the Charles Darwin Research Station.

There were lots of baby giant tortoises, too.

On Punta Vicente Roca we spotted a number of penguins. A pelican chased these guys into the water and they swam beside our boat.

These guys were checking us out as much as we were checking them out.

Pelicans can be found in lots of places, but I'm still impressed by them.

They have massive wingspans.

An oyster catcher providing shade to its eggs.

We saw so many green sea turtles. It was much like in Hawaii, only there seemed to be more here.

The equivalent of sea turtle bodysurfing, I guess.

A great blue heron perched over a lagoon full of flamingoes.

Flamingoes in flight.

Flamingoes feeding on shrimp larvae, oblivious to the double rainbow in the sky.

Galapagos mockingbird. They would come right up to you and stare at your feet.

A long-tailed gull.

A baby Nasca boobie chick.

A Nasca boobie taking care of a pair of eggs.

Nasca boobies hanging out on the edge of a seaside cliff.

This guy was supercute. He was really curious about us and kept turning around on the rock to watch us.

He and his friend both, in fact.

These guys were constantly mugging for the camera.

They think they're so cool. And they are...

A pile of marine iguanas, warming up in the sun before heading out to fill up on algae.

A number of them are perched on rocks here, getting ready to join their friends in the water.

Swimming iguana.

A lava lizard hanging out on the back of a marine iguana. Multi-species tolerance here is extraordinary.

Dolphins appeared suddenly beside our ship on Christmas morning.

A blowhole sending up vapor about 30-40 feet.

More beautiful cliff-face on Punta Vicente Roca.
Bartólome Island had over 40 volcanic cones like this spatter cone.

A double bay on Bartólome Island.

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  1. Beautiful pictures. The Galapagos Islands are the most incredible museum of evolutionary changes. These Islands have a high percentage of endemic animals.

  2. Waw,...what a long trip you are making, never seem to stop!!

    I can nearly follow you on my PC!! Waw!! Amazing & breath taking pictures!!! My father & mother went there about 15 years ago!!

    They thought it was amazing & ooh so fascinating beacuse my father is a real & true admirer of Charles Darwin!! He has all of his books, etc!

  3. Zuri: Thank you! (Of course, I only post the photos I think are my best!) You described the Galapagos well: "the most incredible museum of evolutionary changes." And yes, most of the animals we saw on the trip were endemic. And for those that aren't, there are plans to eradicate them as others have recently been eradicated. It's a beautiful place. Thanks for your comment!

    Sophie: It IS a long trip! I'm starting to feel it, but it's not getting old at all! :) I didn't realize that your parents traveled to the Galapagos 15 years ago. I'm sure it's changed very much -- probably 2x or 3x the number of tourists now, and many more people are living on some of the islands. I hope you and your family can visit here soon!

  4. The "unusual yellow finch" is a yellow warbler, and the "long-tailed gull" is a red-billed tropicbird.
    Great pictures!

  5. Wow, thanks! This really helped me with a science project! I love the pictures!

  6. Galapagos is definitely a wonderful place