We traveled by plane for a little over two hours today to arrive at San Cristobal, Galapagos Islands. We entered through the National Park queue and were met by our naturalist, Jamie. He escorted us and all our belongings to a panga that took us to our cruise ship, the Galaxy. Before we even left shore we had the opportunity to see sea lions and the tree-like form of the prickly pear cactus.
Once on board, we had a short briefing, did some unpacking, had lunch, and headed for Isla Lobos (near San Cristobal). This small islet is known for its population of sea lions and blue-footed boobies. We were greeted on the islet by Sally Lightfoot crabs with their beautiful blue and red coloring. Next we saw a lot of sea lions. Many of the females were nursing pups, some very young. We also saw a male sea lion that mainly stays in the ocean guarding his territory. Many lava lizards were climbing about on the volcanic rocks and are difficult to see as they blend in well with their surroundings.
I have never really done any wildlife photography but starting on Galapagos could trick you into thinking it’s really easy. The animals are not scared of people, and if I didn’t know any better, I’d think they were posing! I just kept snapping away.
Next were the blue-footed boobies with their unique blue feet. This is mating season, so we got to see some of their courtship ritual which includes the male lifting up and showing off his blue feet (kind of like watching someone walk around with clown shoes on, hence the name booby). They also “talk” to each other and raise their wings.
We also had the pleasure of seeing the great frigate bird soaring high above. The females have a white neck and breast while males have a red neck sack which they inflate to impress the females. We were fortunate to see one putting on a display.
Many of the students decided to take advantage of snorkeling and swimming with the sea lions. The water is too cold for my taste but it was fun to watch. The sea lions are so fast!
That night we had a wonderful dinner (I thought I would lose weight on this trip—not gain it!) and then were briefed about our visit to Española tomorrow. The ship started for the island about 2:00 AM and I think all of us woke up and took notice. Since this is a season of transition from wet to dry due to a change in ocean currents, it is rough out here. Most of us didn’t sleep much and some were sick (like me). This will definitely take some getting used to, but so worth it! Enjoy the pix!