Perhaps the first thing that comes to peoples' minds
when you mention the Galapagos
is the giant land tortoises.
The Darwin Center on Santa Cruz was the pioneer location for the
preservation of the Giant Tortoises. The tortoises have been decimated
over the centuries by introduced species in the Galapagos; and being
used by sailors as a protein source and loaded by the hundreds into
ships' holds. Scientific name: geochelome elephantopus.
decided to take a local boat and stay in a hotel to tour the area around
Santa Cruz Island. (Tony's Photo) Little did we know that it would be
about 40 miles in a small open boat to get to Puerto Ayora on Santa
Cruz. Additionally, a bus ride across the island and another boat ride
to Santiago Island would be part of the adventure!
Ayora was very attractive. They were set up for tourists here and there
were many restaurants and shops. These prickly pear cactus is the
dietary mainstay of many Galapagos animal including tortoises.
were put up in one of the best hotels on Santa Cruz. What we didn't
understand was that we needed to order hot water for showers in advance.
Michael and Michelle kept the lights on all night to keep the
cockroaches away from them. Fortunately, we didn't have those problems
in our room (and if you believe that, I'll tell you another story!).
"restaurant row" was particularly interesting with many small
establishments... Including an ice cream "parlor." A special treat for
people who live on a sail boat!
golden land iguanas are unique to Santa Cruz Island. (right) Isn't this
coloration remarkable? Their scientific name is: conolophus
subcristatus. This trip was so special! For those who
constantly marvel at nature's varied and intriguing displays a trip to
the Galapagos is a must.
the Darwin Center each baby tortoise is numbered and catalogued. (left)
The babies will not be let loose in the wild until they are large enough
to survive. Most of these babies are hatched from eggs either laid by
females in the center or gathered in the wild by local people who might
find them and bring them into the center for protection.
Island (right) has been developed to keep visitors from destroying the
fragile volcanic environment. This is a lava cactus (Brachycereus
the foreground. (right)
is a lichen (left) that can sustain itself on the moonlike surface of Bartolome.
is another of the handful of plants that can live in this volcanic
environment. (right) Over many eons the surface will be broken down and an
organic topsoil will form to support more diverse plant and animal life.
female lava lizard (left) seems to be pretty happy living on the
"moonscape!" Scientific species: tropidurus.
hiking to the top of the volcano on Bartolome Island we are rewarded
with this fabulous view! We later went swimming in this little bay and
some of the swimmers saw some turtles. I also saw some iguanas swimming.
Across the water is Santiago Island.
birds fascinate me. I've never seen a living creature that was blue
before. Scientific name: sula nebouxii.
boobies on our left are displaying mating behavior. I guess their
bubby on the right could be classified as a bit of a voyeur. (right)
you think that this appearance inspired the name "booby?"
penguins were pretty interesting too. We saw a few babies in the area as
well. These are called Galapagos Penguins and are permanent residents of
the Galapagos. Scientific name: spheniscus mendiculus.
red crabs are all over the place. They are called "Sally Lightfoot!"
Scientific name: grapsus grapsus. Their colors are pretty attractive!
guy also had to crawl into my web site! I guess you could say that
my web site has crabs!
last island we visited in the Galapagos was Isabella. (left) We were able to
take Quest into a safe anchorage and explore ashore. It was loaded with
with visual treats!
to Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island is an attractive dock and beach.
says that I don't take enough photos of people. Here's a good shot of
picking nits and talking on the cell phone.
little girl with her purse, the boy with his bike - like kids
shots of little kids on the street having a snack! The blue in the
windows are screens to keep out the biting insects. Surprisingly, the
installation of screens in windows is a major health benefit and
increases infant mortality dramatically.
tortoise breeding center on Isabella was the best we'd seen.
of the main reasons we went to Isabella (besides the fact that it was in
a line to the Gambiers) was to see the flamingos. The number of
flamingos we saw was a bit underwhelming, but because of all the other
treats (dozens of penguins, hundreds of sea iguanas, leaping seals!) we
were truly happy we made the stop. These are called the greater flamingo
saw lots of penguins around the anchorage at Isabella.
Scientific name: spheniscus mendiculus.
saw so many penguins I couldn't choose a "best one!"
sea lions were jumping all around our dinghy. We were just taking
a little "chardonnay" cruise around the anchorage at Isabella.
birds (right) were roosting for the night.
These are called the magnificent frigate (fregata magnificens).
saw hundreds of marine iguanas nearby. Scientific name: amblyrhynchus
night at anchor in Isabella we received a special treat. (right)
This was our last anchorage until reaching the Gambier Islands 18 days
later. Besides Scott and myself we had Michelle and Michael on board the