Galapagos Wildlife

NB.  Again we have posted two posts in a single day so have a look below.

Going to the Galapagos is like going on safari in Tanzania. We try not to set any expectations about what we are going to see. That way any creature that passes by will be a joy.

Marine iguanas bask on the rocks to warm up. Their body temperature must be between 24C and 40C or they will expire. They feed underwater on algae growing on the rocks. Bottom time is a few minutes and then they have to swim to the surface for a breath or two. These prehistoric looking animals have not yet discovered scuba gear. Armour plated reptiles definitely look out of place standing on the bottom of the ocean munching away.

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A couple of days ago we parallel a pod of orcas for a half hour or so. They swim along, bobbing up and down for air a few times then disappear into the blue for a while. We have no idea how many whales there are but my guess is 8 with one very large one and at least one baby. Huge animals and so graceful.

As often as we are on water we rarely see dolphins. This week we see a group at least 4 of the seven days. We spend a good ½ hour standing on the Titanic like bow of our boat hanging over the railing watching as the dolphins speed along beside us surfing the bow wave jumping in and out of the water and fast, very fast. Didn’t get to see any on our dives but we can’t get it all.

Hammerhead sharks are one of the hallmarks of a Galapagos dive trip. Wolf and Darwin Islands are the places to see them. Big schools cruise the waters and look like the Spanish Armada out protecting the territory. We saw about 10 total and 5 of those were in one group. We were supposed to spend one more day in that area and it was recommended by the dive crew that we relocate to Roca Redonda as there was the possibility of better diving and maybe more sharks. On the third dive at Roca Redonda they appear, out of the murk they come, in twos, in fours, my guess is there were 60 very big beasts. They parade by not even taking notice of the bubbles off to their right. We swim a few more meters and moving in the opposite direction another (or maybe the same) crew cruises by. As if it wasn’t enough we encountered 3 packs of these extremely powerful swimmers. It is truly awe inspiring, the only thing is it happened so fast and we don’t have any pictures. Another checkmark on our list of “to sees”.

There aren’t a lot of penguins here but they are cute. We see a few Galapagos Penguins. Two on our first day and two on at Punta Vincente Roca. Standing there looking out over the sea, daydreaming about whatever penguins dream about, the best fishing ever maybe. These are the second smallest penguin type in the world, the smallest being the fairy penguins in Australia.

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Sea lions, not seals, live in the Galapagos. We learn that sea lions have external ears and seals have internal ears. No seals here we are told, only sea lions. They bask in the sun and their fur turns from a dark brown to a light brown when dry. They are cumbersome and odd looking moving on land but are so graceful in the water. They are curious beasts and if they see diver bubbles they are there to investigate. Of course this is to our enjoyment. Sleek, smooth and fast swimmers, we have to crook our necks just to keep up visually. They have been everywhere we have been. And they love to play. More often than not when we are diving they will race by, spinning, twirling, diving by us at breakneck speeds, and then racing back to the surface. They have absolutely no worry about their rate of ascent. On our very last dive Debbie got a chance to interact with the beasts and they seemed to pick up on the fact she wanted to play. More than will participants they swim circles around her. There was not a chance she could keep up but she did have a go.

The Galapagos tortoise is the animal that is easily associated with these islands. They are big, slow, cumbersome animals. They live to be very old. 200 years of eating grass. Ah! it is a tortoise’s life.

There is so much wildlife here. It reminds us somewhat of the Serengeti in Tanzania but the animals here are much friendlier, quite docile in fact, and I would have to say more diverse. Can’t say which one would be my favorite as they all have their own appeal, but Debbie came here to play with the sea lions and it has been mission accomplished.

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