Friday, May 1, 2009

Galapagos, Day 5: San Cristobal and Isla Lobos

Day five we awake to find ourselves docked at Puerto Banquerizo Moreno, the capital city of the Galapagos on the island of San Cristobal.

We hiked through a government park, and saw lots of new plant life, including this ground cherry.

We also saw the stunning candelabra cactus.

And lots of lava lizards.

I was continually shocked at how unconcerned the smaller animals like this lizard was with human presence. I was literally able to get up close and personal for this shot. In Arizona, or in California, for that matter, the lizard would have been long gone at the first sound of my footstep.

Another shocking thing was the sad state of this "protected" park. Trash everywhere and vandalism galore. We did our best to pick up as we went along, but we could do nothing about this carved-up cactus arm, or any of the other tags we saw.

San Cristobal is home to the frigate bird. Almost as famous as the blue-footed booby, the frigate is known for its bright red throat pouch and its mating ritual.

The frigate bird is also called "the pirate of the air" for good reason. Its main source of food comes from the beaks of other birds which it attacks while in mid-air. I'm sure that the frigates who landed on our boat had some kind of robbery in mind.

Reaching the top of the trail, we were greeted by a famous face, Mr. Charles Darwin, in all his glory.

We got a chance to participate in some consumer tourism in the town, and then returned to the boat for the short trip to Isla Lobos. We had a surprise visitor aboard the boat, and Isaac decided to join him for a nap.

Since humans are unable to disturb the sea lions, the only way to get one off your boat is to shoo it off. That, or wait for it to finish sunning.

The name "Isla Lobos" means "Sea Lion Island." How true. Sea lions were everywhere: under bushes, under foot, in the water. They were a massive bellowing, stinking, and feeding crowd. Babies would cry out for their mother, but if they tried to feed from a random female, they would be chased off. We saw many older sea lions who still insisted on nursing. Bullies, all of them.

Everyone was taken with this little one, just a few days old according to Gato.

We also saw a pelican, one of my favorite birds. I love that they are so strange looking on land but so graceful while flying.

Besides being a home for hundreds of sea lions, Isla Lobos is also a breeding ground for the blue-footed booby.

Like the sea turtles, the booby males are smaller than the females, and they have smaller pupils. This one was intent on guarding his nesting female, and would not budge, no matter how close we got.

His mode of defense was a whistling call which sounded more panicked than dangerous.

We all had a good laugh at the name, and at the "I Love Boobies" t-shirts in the souvenier shops. But these birds were not named for female anatomy at all; rather the name comes from the Spanish word for clown, "bobo." Not much better, I know.

A blue-footed booby and a blue-handkerchiefed Isaac consider each other.

Having gotten a noseful of sea lion scent, we got back on the boat for the end to another day. In closing, I'll leave you with a picture of bromeliads, or air plants.

Tomorrow, I'll be posting pictures of Espanola and South Plaza


Kathy said...

What an amazing, amazing adventure Katie!

Katie Cappello said...

It was indeed...the adventure of a lifetime!