08.09.2008 - 21.09.2008 25 °C
We had an amazing time visiting the Galapagos islands. We started our trip with an 8-day sailboat cruise visiting several islands. After that we went to Isabella island (the largest) for 5 days.
The wildlife in the Galapagos is superb. On many of the landings we encountered newborn sealion pups who were just opening their eyes. At other sites were we able to swim with juvenille sealions, and on Isabella two played with us the entire time we were snorkelling. And when a white-tipped reef shark swam nearby, one of the sealions chased him away! These two pups loved floating up to our masks, blowing bubbles in our face, and then swimming away. On Isabella we also "discovered" a sheltered bay that had about 20 resting green sea turtles at low tide. On Santa Fe we snorkelled with a school of eagle rays and several turtles. At a few sites we swam with sharks.
Perhaps the two most interesting animals on the islands are the giant tortoises and the marine iguanas. It is believed that both floated to the islands on debris, and with no predators the tortoises grew to great size while the iguanas turned to the sea to feed on algae and seaweed. The tortoises were hunted to extinction on most islands (first by sailors and then by Ecuadorian colonists and introduced species). Three species of the giant tortoises are extinct while Lonesome George is the last of his species. On Santiago island Charles Darwin complained about not being able to set up a tent because the soil was undermined by so many iguana burrows. Today the land iguana is extinct on Santiago because feral goats destroyed the soil and out-competed the iguanas.
Birds are everywhere, with the most famous being the Darwin finches. These tiny birds have different sized beaks depending on their niche. There is even one that uses cactus spines to pick bugs out from under the bark on trees. The most amazing thing is that none of the animals are afraid of people. The boobies got their name from early sailors because they could just walk up to them and club them to death.
Click on any of the following photos to see more of our other photos from the Galapagos. Descriptions of the photos explain things better than I can do here.