Monday, February 23, 2015
Sunday, February 22, 2015
We rented bikes in town (at $2 per hour) to ride out the 7km dirt trail to El Muro de las Lagrimas – The Wall of Tears. The wall was built by convicts that were kept on the island – before tourism was such a hit – from 1946 to 1959. The wall is completely purposeless, except to make the life of the convicts even worse. It is an impressive dry-stack, but you really would have thought that the prison commandante could have come up with a project that at least furthered his needs. The wall goes from one side of a small valley to the other and does nothing. I’m sure somewhere near here you could find a fairly large unmarked grave of the inmates who never made it out.
The park has put in helpful interpretive signs like this one – No tortoise petting.
And for those of us with long hair, there was some demonstration signs of how to take the down hills.
Its kind of hard to see, but the background peninsula is covered with blue-footed boobies. The bike trail runs along the ocean for most of the way till it heads up hill to get to the prison site. Which, for me, conveniently made it downhill on the way back.
Nearer town on the trail was a locals cemetery. It seemed like they were all new comers, I didn’t see any old markers.
That evening from the back of the boat we were entertained by hundreds of bombarding blue-footed boobies going after their evening meal.
Not great focus, but here are the boobies just as they hit the water. The little fry didn’t have a chance.
This afternoon we did a snorkel at one of the only places we are allowed to go without a National Park guide. Here is an artist rendition of a penguin shooting by us underwater. These guys are bullet fast underwater, and hard to see much less photograph.
Chris found this 10-12 inch open oyster. If you biggerrate by clicking on it you can see a striped 3-1/2 to 4 in fish on the lower lip.
And a gratuitous mangrove photo for our friend Save-the-Mangroves Will. You can see a heron center top hanging off the mangrove waiting for a fish to come by.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
These Galapagos penguins are hanging on the rocks just near where we are anchored. We call it Drycleaner Point. These little guys are similar to the tuxedo dressed penguins of the Antarctic, just without the extra layer of body fat insulation since they live at the Equator.
There’s some good trails around Puerto Villamil for checking out the wildlife. Here’s a curlew, or maybe an Ibis. Our tropical Pacific bird book doesn’t cover the Galapagos so we have to make up most of the identifications.
Definitely a Galapagos duck.
This is the other end of the same duck, perhaps making identification easier, while she’s working for her dinner.
Lots of Flamingos in the mangrove swamps. Check the ugly duckling sitting on the log.
This queen was getting all fluffed up.
They’re not all colorful, but they make a good noise.
Can’t forget the blue-footed boobies. They dive bomb for their fish breakfast every morning by the hundreds, just off the rocks by the boat .
Another pond side feeder, a variety stilt.
Can you guess how to tell that this is a marine iguana instead of a land iguana?
Marine iguana digesting his seaweed in with the help of some warm sun. When they’re not swimming, they’re pretty lethargic.
If you are an astute reader and can instantly see the shape of this tortoise shell is different than the ones we blogged about on San Cristobol, then you are probably a distant relative of Darwin. The island of Isabel has 5 different sub-species of tortoise, all with slightly different shell shapes. Each sub-species lives around one of the island’s 5 volcanoes. These tortoises can live up to 150 years. Almost none of the wild hatched tortoises survive, due to the effects of introduced species such as ants, rats, goats, dogs, etc. The eggs are taken from the wild and placed in breeding centers, where the babies get to grow to wild adolescents and are then released.
Except for their shell, they really have no other protection mechanism from predators or man. Sailing ships stopped here over the centuries to stock up on the giant turtles, as they lived a long time in the holds of the ships without food or water – and gave up nice fresh meat.
The sea lions on Isabela are not nearly as pushy as the ones on San Cristobol. This baby broke through our seal defenses and took a little nap on the swim step.