The Galapagos Islands are Very Magical

The Galapagos Islands are Very Magical.  Where else can you:

Green sea turtle we swam with. (Photo by Koen - Ingeborg)

Green sea turtle we swam with. (Photo by Koen Bosmans)

Swim  with sea turtles, drifting along peacefully, in a spectacular natural fish “tank” of truly turquoise water.

.

.

.

. . . .

King Angelfish. (Photo by Benedicte)

King Angelfish. (Photo by Benedicte Bonnet)

Float on the surface of water that looks like a turquoise fish tank, looking down at schools of tropical fish deep below. 5 second video  .

.

.

.

.

.

.

. . . .

Sea Lion playing with air bubble. (Photo by Benedicte Bonnet)

Swim with sea lions in the same turquoise tank.  They are so close that you can touch them, but you don’t (against the rules).  The juveniles play by blowing bubbles. As the bubbles rise up to the surface, they try to catch them to puncture them.  They play “ball” with a sea shell, tossing it back and forth like two children throwing a ball.

The tunnel Dan dove into. The sharks in there came as a surprise.

. The tunnel Dan dove into. The sharks in there came as a surprise.

.

.

.

Dive into a lava cave and be confronted with three large (but fortunately peaceful) reef sharks.  Exit the cave as rapidly as possible! A 25 second video is here. . . .

adf

White tipped reef shark

.

.

.

.

.

Follow a white tipped reef shark as it patrols the bottom and heads to a lava cave to hide for the day (this shark does not bite people, but other Galapagos sharks do).   . .

Waved Albatross sitting on his/her nest while a lizard watches.

Waved Albatross sitting on his/her nest while a lizard watches.

.

.

.

Walk through the courtship, mating and nesting grounds of the waved albatross.   Look an albatross straight in the eye and see it stare back at you, so unfearful.  See a mom or dad sitting on an egg, also unafraid of humans but protecting the egg from predators. . .

Blue Footed Boobie watching over her fledling while waiting for her mate to bring food.

Nazca Booby watching over her fledgling while waiting for her mate to bring food.

.

.

Walk oh so close to a mother Nazca booby and her fledgling baby.  She is totally unafraid because in the Galapagos she is 100% protected. . . . .

Dan and some penguines

Dan and some penguins

.

.

.

Swim in and around lava formations and emerge near a rock with penguins, blue footed boobies and sea lions so close you can touch them. . . . . .

Courting Blue Footed Boobies

Blue Footed Boobies courting

.

.

.

.

.

Admire blue footed boobies on a beach as they do a courtship dance, and see a mom guarding her nest.  Their faces are remarkable.. very expressive.   15 second video is here. . . .

Sunset

Sunset

.

.

.

Experience the magic of being amongst islands, on a peaceful sea at dusk.  The sunset is a pale color because there are some grayish clouds on the horizon, but it is truly beautiful. . . .

 Tropical Colors

Tropical Colors

.

.

.

Wonder at the incredible shades of turquoise and blue of the sea while walking on a trail across one of the Galapagos islands.  It is a vision of paradise.

.

.

.. . .

Flamingo feeding

Flamingo feeding

Enjoy the colors and grace of the flamingo as it grazes in a shallow lagoon near dusk; with the low light, the flamingo is glowing orange. .

.

.

.

.

.

.

.. . . . . .

Beach in a mangrove swamp where you can swim out to the ocean.

Beach in a mangrove swamp where you can swim out to the ocean.

Swim in a mangrove filled ocean where there is an opening from the ocean to the mangrove forest.  The forest creates an overhead canopy. The bottom is sandy and the water is kind of a green color.  Drift with the waves or swim gently.  Watch a night heron stalk some prey and at the same time see a beautiful tiny yellow warbler hopping along the mangrove roots. .

.

replace 100s frigatesflyingIMG_5547Tilt your head up to the sky to watch a male frigate bird soaring in the air currents, effortlessly, and endlessly circling.

.

.

.

Laugh at the antics of the sea lions and the pelicans at a fish market where the fishermen bring in fresh fish to clean them for sale.  The pelicans stand at attention hoping for a treat.  A sea lion rests its head on a large fish but doesn’t attempt to eat it… like it knows better.  35 second video is here.

Witness a shark attack and kill a sea lion and then see the sea lion ‘swim’ (human equivalent would be limp) off to the edge of the sea, where unfortunately he or she will die.    22 second video here.

A fellow traveler holding the fish that had just pierced his cheek

A fellow traveler holding the fish that had just pierced his cheek (photo by Benedicte Bonnet)

See a fellow snorkeler get hit in the face by a flying fish with a large needle nose snout, almost like a mini sword fish. He grabs the fish and holds it up for us to see. Its snout is red with his blood, and the fish was killed by the impact!   Someone snaps a photo, someone else says “Get him out of the water before a shark comes”.

.

.

.. . .

The sea lion pup Dan played with.

Our guide, Juan, looking at the sea lion pup Dan played with.

The young sea lions seem to want desperately to play like their lives depend on it, and it quite likely does, because this play gives them the skills they´ll need to survive later.  One afternoon we were snorkeling when we came upon a youngster our guide said was only a couple of weeks old.  As we watched it swam by in front of us, showing off, a couple of times.  Dan tried playing with the little guy.  When he swam by to the right, Dan swam left, and then did a twist to go right.  Sure enough, the little sea lion was scooting left.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Then the sea lion did a spin. Dan tried to spin too, and it was a pretty sorry site.  His snorkel went under water, and he clearly took so long to spin that the sea lion got tired watching.  He took off to find a more agile playmate.  A 13 second video of sea lion youngsters playing is here

.

.

The turtle who was crossing the highway

The turtle who was crossing the highway

One morning Dan was out running. He´d just gone onto the main road when he saw a medium sized tortoise making his way across.  The Baltra highway is to Santa Cruz Island what Stevens Creek Blvd is to Cupertino,  busy with trucks, motor scooters, taxis, and motor cycles.  This tortoise had chosen one of the only curves in the road to make his “cruz” (crossing).  It did not look good.  Dan jumped out and started directing traffic.  He held up his hand to an approaching vehicle, so they saw a tourist in jogging clothes trying to stop them, and they were not happy.  Then he’d point to the tortoise, they’d understand, and give him the thumbs up.  For those who have read the children´s book,

Another turtle headed for the highway

Another turtle headed for the highway

Make Way For Ducklings, Dan felt like the policeman.  Eventually a local guy stopped, got out of his car, picked up the tortoise, and carried it to the side it had started from.  Dan started to take a picture but the man stopped him saying they are not allowed to touch any animals, and he could get in big trouble, but it seemed worthwhile to him to save the tortoise.  Dan kept running, and saw 3 more tortoises of similar size (about 20 inches long shells), considering crossing in the same direction the first one had.  Fortunately he soon came upon a man in a department of fisheries and agriculture truck. The man seemed very interested, and he appeared to be taking responsibility for the situation.

Girl with doll on motor scooter

Girl with doll on motor scooter

In Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, motor scooters are a predominant mode of transportation.  In fact, there are virtually NO CARS.  You see bikes, motor scooters, motor cycles and white Toyota truck taxis.   Families travel on motor scooters with their babies and small children.  (OK, maybe a little dangerous for the child who seems innocent of the potential danger, and very happy to be with its parents).  We recall some favorite scenes such as the large woman in a red dress, driving with her right hand while holding a small baby in a white receiving blanket in her left hand or the pair of twins, perhaps two years old, standing on the running boards between their father’s knees, looking over the handlebars, with mom on the back of the scooter.

.

Bug Train loading up fresh passengers.

Bug Train loading up fresh passengers.

On weekend evenings the elephant train heads out.  It about as close to a roller coaster as you can get without having a roller coaster.  Its enterprising owner stops to load up with about 30 passengers in the town square and then heads for a seldom used road on the edge of town.  Once there he speeds up to about 25 mph and starts to swerve sharply from one side of the road to the other, almost like he was trying to roll the thing.  Loud Latin dance music, piped into the cars, adds to the excitement.  The 10 minute ride costs a dollar, and it is worth it.  The competing, more sanguine, beetle train and worm train, are more attractive to the younger set.  This description is based on personal experience!

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Galapagos Islands are Very Magical

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s