So where were we? Ah yes, in the middle of the Pacific on the Equator…
This was our welcoming party as we landed at dawn on Fernandina.
The piles of marine iguanas are common in the morning, until they warm up enough to get into the chilly water, to eat algae When they were washed up on the shores of these islands over 4 million years ago, they were originally land iguanas, but there was little in the way of plant life on the barren volcanic ground they found themselves. They evolved to be able to eat algae underwater or at low tide, as well as developed salt glands near their noses to excrete excess salt. We encountered many “sneezing” iguanas (but I never was able to get an action shot).
A lava lizard found a good vantage point:
As we walked along the trail on the island, we kept meeting more of the inhabitants.
The cormorant on the Galapagos is the only species to have become flightless (I’ll have more pictures later of their stubby wings). Note the gorgeous blue eye! The land crabs are Sally Lightfoots.
Can you guess what is a predator of the iguanas?
This Galapagos hawk was totally unfazed by our presence during his breakfast.
This little fella was super curious -
That’s our guide, who had settled on the beach to tell us about the “nursery” we were watching in the protected cove. The sea lion mothers leave the babies to go fishing all day, and somehow teach them not to swim out of the shallow protected areas, where they would be good snacks for patrolling sharks.
After going back to the boat for breakfast, we returned to the island to snorkel, hoping to find marine iguanas feeding underwater.
Yep, we did.
I couldn’t have composed this group any better if I tried:
While snorkeling, I popped my head up every once in awhile, and was thrilled to see these cormorants, blue-footed booby, and marine iguanas sharing a rock.
Later that same day (!), we crossed back to Isabela island and on just a short hike, found land iguanas…
..and giant tortoises.
For this lady (whose shell came up above my knees), we had to step off the trail into the bushes to let her continue on down the path we had been walking on. We stood in a pretty quiet line just watching her pass.
As we were motoring on down the coast, we had some friends join us. Because our boat, the Samba, was so small, the captain chose to “drive” in big circles keeping these guys, and scores of their friends, enjoying our bow wake for over 30 minutes! All I can say is “Man! They’re big.” (check out during the video how they turn on their side to check us out)
And all that was just one day! Whew. I’m exhausted. See you later.