Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Galapagos, Day 2: Santiago and Chinese Hat

The second morning began with a cruise in the small boats around the coast of Santiago. It was a striking landscape, with cacti and lava shores surrounded by cool blue water.

We were greeted by all sorts of animals. If you look closely, you can see a marine iguana swimming for his breakfast below.

We also caught sight of a lava heron. These herons love to feed on the Sally Golightly crabs, which you'll see later on.

And I'll never forget this little guy.

I was so excited to see a penguin, but this sighting was bittersweet. He had lost his right wing, and was probably going to die soon, though this day he was still hanging on.

After a morning snorkel around the same coast, and a big lunch, we headed to the nearby island of Chinese Hat, so named because it looks like, well...

The beach was guarded by this guy, a juvenile Galapagos hawk.

Like all the other species in the islands, the hawk is not afraid of people, and our guide told us tourists have had hawks perch on them before. Thankfully, this guy was happy to stay on his own perch.

We got a close look at the Sally Golightly crab, named for its super-quick movement across the rocks.

Really, these guys can move. And they have to, since they have all sorts of predators, including the lava heron, after them. But they are usually in the clear once they mature to this vibrant orange color, since their shells have hardened.

Here's a lovely picture of Sally and a sea lion.

Another abundant animal, pretty much everywhere we went. The sea lions were so smelly, yet so freakin cute. Like these two pups, taking their afternoon naps.

Here's the requisite picture of me up close and personal with a marine iguana.

Like the sea lions, these guys were mostly sleeping or sunning themselves on the rocks. But I caught this one on the move.

I found myself fascinated with the tracks left in the sand. We could see these most clearly on early morning hikes, when the tracks hadn't yet been disturbed by tourists. But I got a good picture of some iguana tracks on Chinese Hat. 

The coast of Chinese Hat, like Santiago, was mostly lava formations. It was really fun to hop around on, and I was glad I had sturdy shoes.

For some reason, on our way back to the boat, our guide, Gato, had us touch the prickly pear. As a native Arizonan who has had my fair share of cactus thorns in my body, I refrained, but caught everyone else in the action.

And that was the end of another day. I'll leave you with a picture of the Palos Santos, or incense tree. It smells like every church I've ever been in. 

Tomorrow, please return for pictures of the James Bay lava flow and Bartholomew Island.

1 comment:

Zuri said...

Great pictures. The Galapagos Islands are the most incredible living museum of evolutionary changes, with a huge variety of exotic species (birds, land animals, plants) and landscapes not seen anywhere else.