Day 5 gets its very own post as it was the best day. On Day 5 my fellow passengers and I headed off to the oldest island in the archipiélago…Española…which is approximately 3.5 million years old. Despite the fact that Española is one of the smallest of the major islands, it has the richest diversity of life…both flora and fauna. It is the home to lots of wildlife including:
- Marine iguanas – found only in the Galapagos, marine iguanas are the only iguanas in the world that swim and feed in the ocean. The marine iguanas of Española are the only ones that change colors during the mating season.
Marine Iguanas (piled on top of each other for warmth)
- Blue Footed Boobies – found in multiple places near the Pacific Ocean from California through Chile they are most plentiful (and most famous) in the Galapagos (right).
- Nazca Booby-found in few places outside of the Galapagos, these birds are famous for practicing habitual plentiful siblicide. They lay two eggs several days apart.
If both eggs hatch, the elder chick will push its sibling out of the nest area, leaving it to die of thirst or cold. The parent booby will not intervene and the younger chick will inevitably die. It is believed that two eggs are laid so that one remains an insurance in case the other gets destroyed or eaten e.g. by gulls, or the chick dies soon after hatching.
- Lava lizards – Lots of lava lizards all over the Galapagos but the largest and most colorful species are found on Española.
Male Lava Lizard
Female Lava Lizard
On the morning of Day 5, we spent several hours at a beautiful white sand beach near Gardner’s Bay. There were tons and tons of sea lions as well as some crazy mockingbirds that would land on your arm, try to get in your backpack, try to open your water bottle…all sorts of stuff. The really striking thing about all of the wildlife on the Galapagos islands is that it is all very, very tame. The animals have few, if any, natural predators and the naturalist guides are militant about making sure the tourists do nothing to harm or scare the animals. Consequently it is easy to get very close to the animals for pictures…helpful when you’re not carrying a big camera with a telephoto lens.
Gardner Island was the site of our best snorkeling of the trip where I got some great underwater shots. When we first got in the water there was this lone sea lion cruising around…getting a little too close for comfort if you ask me but he never touched me. At first it was a little unnerving but eventually I got used to it and decided to try and get some pictures. Here are the results…unfortunately sea lions are too fast for my digital camera delay so I never got the whole sea lion in the picture.
Here are a school of fish I was not able to identify in the book later…
…but this one is a King Angelfish:
Also, a picture of the reef….
…and a sea urchin of some variety. And, of course, a baby sea lion that was following me around. Enjoy the photos!
Tags: 8 - Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, iguanas, sea lions