Thursday, 26 February 2015

Galapagos Wildlife to brighten up the winter!

Quite a few years ago I managed to go on a trip to the Galapagos Islands and being a fan of Darwin and his theory of Evolution, I was in my element. The Galapagos Islands are a collection of islands lying at a latitude that is in line with the Equator and off the coast of Ecuador. Not only is the diversity of wildlife stunning but also the wildlife itself is vibrant in colour and the animals are pretty tame due to being protected from man for so long. Here are some of my favourite pics:

The Sally Lightfoot crab or the Galapagos Island crab is quite common throughout the islands. It just wanders about and doesn't seem that bothered by humans, but it is actually quite a quick mover as it darts about over the rocks.

Sally Lightfoot crab, Galapagos Islands
Sally Lightfoot crab, Galapagos Islands
The other crab I saw darting about was this hermit crab darting across the beach. I particularly like the second picture where you can see his beady eyes!

Hermit Crab - Galapagos Islands
Hermit Crab - Galapagos Islands
The reptiles of the Galapagos are plentiful and entertaining. I loved watching both the land and the marine iguanas which are thought to have diverged through evolution millions of years ago. The land iguanas stroll around looking very tough and very definitely in charge. In addition to this look - they also have very tough mouths as they were feeding on the prickly pair trees - ouch!
Iguana - Galapagos Islands
Iguana - Galapagos Islands
Feeding on prickly pears - Galapagos Islands
The tough mouthed iguana!
The other variety of the iguana is the marine iguanas, which also were plentiful and fun to watch. The way they just jumped off the rocks and into the sea was amazing. Looking at them as they laid on the rocks sunning themselves, they appear quite lazy but when they are swimming they are very agile.

Marine Iguana - Galapagos Islands
Marine Iguana - Galapagos Islands
Other lizards that I saw that inhabit the Galapagos Islands are the Lava Lizards - and they are quick when they dart about on the rocks! They are again brightly coloured and comical to watch. The lizard in the  second pic below was lifting his feet off the hot rocks, I think this is used as a technique to cool them down.

Lava Lizard - Galapagos Islands
Lava Lizard lifting his feet off the rocks - Galapagos
And now for some birds which are also plentiful and vary varied. The first bird I saw was a Galapagos Pelican, a huge bird with a beak nearly as long as its body! I was also please to see some finches. They are not as easy to photograph being agile little birds but I did get to watch a yellow finch flitting about amongst the bushes. The other bird pictured below is the Blue Footed Booby. A few of us were looking forward to seeing these birds - they really do have bright blue feet and we also came across a fluffy booby chick!

Galapagos Pelican
Yellow Finch - Galapagos Islands
Blue Footed Booby - Galapagos Islands
Booby Chick - Galapagos Islands

It has to be said my favourite animal of the Galapagos Islands is the Sea Lion. They are very abundant and they are adorable creatures to watch. Some of the young pups were coming up to us and playing with our bare feet. They appear to spend most of their time lounging around in the sunshine!

Young Sea Lions - Galapagos Islands
Life's tough being a Sea Lion - Galapagos

Just lounging around - Galapagos Islands

We did also get in the water and go snorkelling and the wildlife in the Ocean was just as amazing as it was on the land. It was again very colourful and we did get the opportunity to swim with a large green turtle. The water is crystal clear blue and with the sun shining through the surface it lights up the brightly coloured starfish, anemones, fish and the vast amount of marine creatures. We were also lucky enough to snorkel with some playful sea lions and some rays, which are massive creatures that look like they are flying underwater.
Here's a snapshot pic of a green turtle surfacing for air and some turtle tracks on the beach!

Turtle tracks - coming on land to lay eggs

Green Turtle - Galalpagos

Below is one of my favourite photos that demonstrates both the abundance and the diversity of wildlife to be seen in the Galapagos. And then another favourite is that of the Galapagos Island Giant Tortoises. We also visited the Darwin Institute - a fantastic place which has a breeding programme for Giant Tortoises and a research station.

Diversity of Wildlife - Galapagos
Me and the Giant Tortoises - Galapagos Islands
There are not many places that I would go back to visit - simply because there are so many other places that I want to go to. But the Galapagos Islands are the one place I would definitely revisit. There is so much to see and it is a beautiful part of the world. The only down side of this is that tourism may eventually affect this pristine land, but there are regulations which will hopefully ensure the islands are protected whilst still allowing people to visit this great place.

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