…by far the most remarkable feature in the natural history of this archipelago…is that the different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by a different set of beings…I never dreamed that islands, about fifty or sixty miles apart, and most of them in sight of each other, formed of precisely the same rocks, placed under a quite similar climate, rising to a nearly equal height, would have been differently tenanted.Charles Darwin
February 28-March 12 2018
The Galapagos Islands proved to be one of the highlights during our travels, of which there have been many, but this stop was so unique.
The Islands, undiscovered by man until the sixteenth century, are remarkable for their remoteness and isolation, turning them into a true “laboratory of evolution” where limited numbers of species in small, distinctive habitats could be easily studied. Of course, Charles Darwin famously studied and developed some of his theories here.
Not surprisingly, the Islands are home to some of the highest levels of species found nowhere else on earth. About 80% of the land birds, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are endemic.
We stayed on both Santa Cruz Island and Isabela Island over our 12 day stay, with a few day trips to surrounding islands which can only be visited with a guide.
We opted to do land based tours, not only was it cheaper and allowed Maggie to work during the week (the cell service to tether was surprisingly decent), but was also a much more environmentally friendly way to see the area- as opposed to the multi-day cruises. The added bonus is that any money we spent goes to the islands and locals themselves, instead of the foreign companies that run the ships.
The wildlife was amazing, as many animals as a zoo or at Sea World, but without the cages and in their natural habitats. The animals allow you to get within a few meters, or in the case of the Sea Lions, nose to nose, and respectfully observe their behaviors.
While we were there we got to witness both the Blue Footed Booby and the Marine Iguana nesting season. We also got to swim with Sea Lions, Marine Iguanas, various types of rays, Sea Turtles, White Tip Sharks and Black Tip Sharks- among the many tropical fish.
Enjoy the photos, which don’t even do the Galapagos justice, especially the sea life which we encountered that I couldn’t capture. Some of the one’s I did capture include the following: The Marine Iguana; having the ability, unique among modern lizards, to forage in the sea, making it a marine reptile. Galapagos Giant Tortoise; the largest in the world and among the longest-lived. The Galapagos Land Iguana, one of three endemic iguanas found on the islands. The Islands most famous mammal, the Galapagos Sea Lion. Blue Footed Boobies; both parents will take turns incubating the eggs while the other goes out to find food. Their feet are blue due to diet, and are used to attract mates- the more blue the healthier, and therefore better. Nazca Boobies; if two eggs are laid one of the offspring will always kill the other, usually the one that hatches first. One of the 13 species of Finch found in the Galapagos, all of whom descended from a common ancestor. Each finch evolved to fill an available environmental niche on different islands. Also Sea Turtles, sharks, various rays, and more!