Thursday, February 19, 2015

A little Isabela Wildlife

isabelaP2160055 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.

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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.

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Definitely a Galapagos duck.

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This is the other end of the same duck, perhaps making identification easier,  while she’s working for her dinner.

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Lots of Flamingos in the mangrove swamps.  Check the ugly duckling sitting on the log.

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This queen was getting all fluffed up.

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They’re not all colorful, but they make a good noise.

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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 .

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Another pond side feeder, a variety stilt.

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Can you guess how to tell that this is a marine iguana instead of a land iguana?

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Marine iguana digesting his seaweed in with the help of some warm sun. When they’re not swimming, they’re pretty lethargic.

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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.

isabelaIMG_6953 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.

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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.

Paul

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