Final Days in the Archipelago 

Since my last post, my parents and I continued on our pursuit through the beautiful (and pristine) Galapagos Islands, which came to its conclusion today 😦 . Again, I will be taking the pictorial approach with my favorite picture from each excursion.

We spent our first day back in society with people other than those on our boat, which was a little weird, honestly. We had spent the first five days completely immersed in nature, with no cellphone or internet connection to the outside world (we were shocked to find out it snowed today back at home). The streets of Santa Cruz Island (population 20,000) are narrow, but busy. The most interesting place however, was the fish market run by two locals, who were being badgered by hoards of sea lions and pelicans.

That afternoon, the naturalists took us to a remote farm in the country of Santa Cruz Island, where tortoises come to hang out. Pictured above is my 6’3″ dad acting as a size comparison to this massive tortoise.

On Wednesday morning we visited Post Office Bay, a famous site first created by English whalers who would leave mail in the barrel for other departing English whalers to pick up and deliver to the recipient. This became a tradition at the Galapagos, and people now leave post cards for whomever, and as soon as someone who lives around that area comes to the post office barrel, they pick it up and deliver it in person. The result is a new friend you can share your story/experience in the islands with. Enrique, one of our three naturalists, is pictured above explaining the bin.

This was all happening on the island of Floreana, the famous site of the “Galapagos Affair” in the 1920’s. This is a famous story of a dentist Dr.Ritter and his mistress Dore Strauch who went through extreme measures (i.e. pulling out their own teeth and then sharing a pair of dentures) to live on Floreana. Their paradise was interrupted by a baroness who came with two other men, and the whole thing ends up with death and disappearance throughout the party.

In the afternoon we visited Punta Cormorant where we witnessed a rarity that is a group of blue footed boobies diving into the water for fish (pictured above). After that we hiked to the sea turtle nesting grounds and watched close to the shoreline for baby stingrays.

Yesterday, we visited Santa Fe Island where we saw the most adorable sea lions I have seen in my life. They were all over the place and the aroma was quite… pungent. We observed one male sea lion instigating trouble among the others, because that is what they like to do when they are bored.

Our last excursion of the trip was on South Plaza. We observed the endemic (to that island) species of iguana, the Santa Fe land iguana. Along the cliffs there was a wind tunnel housing hundreds of different species of birds, among which were swallowed tailed gulls, blue footed boobies, nazca boobies, and shearwater birds.

This week has been truly incredible. It is so rare to see land virtually unscathed by humans. It will be very strange to go back home where wild animals will most times run away from everyone, even those without cameras, binoculars, etc. Right now we have an overnight stay in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and this time tomorrow we will be in the Sacred Valley of Peru. It has been a lot of fun learning how to use the massive 80-400mm lens, however I am looking forward to the change of photography pace using the wide angle landscape lens.


Galapagos Islands

I apologize for not writing, the boat we are staying on had broken Wifi for the first few days. We have done so much in our first few days of being here, so much that it would be hellish to read a massive paragraph about it. So, that being said, I will do a more pictorial approach to this choosing my favorite photograph that I have taken from each excursion we went on.

We arrived one hour late to the Galapagos, so the afternoon felt pretty rushed. When we arrived to North Seymore Island  however, time slowed down as we entered these animals’ habitat. Other animals we saw on this island included blue footed boobies, male/female frigate birds, land iguanas, and of course sea lions.

The next morning we left the ship at 7 a.m. for a coastline tour of Isabela Island. On this trip we saw the landscape of the cliffs of Isabela Island, clearly defined layers in the rock where you can see the land formation. Other than that there were sally-lightfoot crabs, marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins, sea turtles, and the swallowed tail gull pictured above.

We have been snorkeling everyday so far. I have been taking a lot of videos with the GoPro, but my dad captured this image of the sea turtle.

On the island of Isabela, in the afternoon we took a tour of the Island shore where we hiked along lava rock and dodged what had to be thousands of marine iguanas (one of which is pictured below taking a swim). On that island we saw lots of flightless cormorants, more blue-footed boobies, sea lions, sea turtles, and more species of crabs I was unable to identify. We were also able to get the rare experience of seeing a marine iguana hatchling in the wild.

The next day, we were on the island Fernandina where we were able to see the Giant Tortoise in the wild. The big guy pictured above was one we encountered on the trail. There weren’t many other species other than the Galapagos carpenter bee.

Yesterday, we were on the red sands of Rabida Island. We saw mockingbirds, cactus finch, medium brown finches, land iguanas, marine iguanas, oyster catchers, flycatcher birds, and the Galapagos dove (pictured above). In the afternoon my dad and I swam with some white tip reef sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, and lots of parrot fish.

In the afternoon we hiked up Cerro Dragon, where we saw many land iguanas, and a single flamingo, since the Galapagos is the only place in the world you can see a single flamingo.

Galapagos has been fantastic so far, and hopefully the internet on our boat will be fixed so I can share more pictures for the rest of our time here!