Friday, September 13, 2013

Galapagos Islands: A few photos

Galapagos Islands

What is so special about the Galapagos as a laboratory of evolution... is that while the islands are recently formed ( geologically speaking ), the life found there, while in many ways similar to the life in Ecuador, is different and adapted for the conditions on each different island.

Dawn showing on a volcanic cylinder 

Our worthy boat - the "Frigata" ... this was our home for a week...

We made frequent excursions to locations onthe various islands to hike, hunt out interesting organisms, snorkel , and once to visit a local town.

Most life forms have, through natural selection, adapted to fit the color of their environment.  The " Sally Light Foot" crab depends on her tough shell and the lack of predators. The color has a mating function.

Frigate birds - famous for long flights over the open ocean - here they come to raise their young. All the life forms here appears to be totally unafraid of humans.  It is remarkable that it is possible to approach within a few feet of most organisms.   We were required to travel in groups, and the number of visitors each day is tightly controlled.

A red footed booby ( the color has a mating function )

On a different island, developing with different influences, is a blue footed booby.

A chief predator on one island is the short eared owl

Unique species of mocking birds are found here on some islands.

A male frigate bird with his throat  pouch which can be inflated to attract a mate... ( very "sexy" !)

Sea iguanas - live by eating seaweed that they collect from the seafloor

Land iguanas vary by island - but they eat the specific form of cactus that is unique for each island

A gathering of sea iguanas - note their perfect protective coloring to match the rocks

Tree Cactus on one island - the iguanas have to wait until a cactus "pad" falls to the ground before they can feed... limits the population...

Albatross birds engaged in a squabble

One of the famous land tortoises ... there are also sea turtles visible while snorkeling.  The land tortoises are each well adapted to their particular island.

Judy's birthday cake baked aboard the boat - an Ecuadorian "Tres Leches" cake... muy delicioso!

Note that we were almost smack dab on the equator... only 18.64 minutes of a degree from the line itself! 

Do you remember that Darwin was enthusiastic about the many varieties of Finches that he found.  They are alive and thriving - each adapted to its location and to its food sources...

A different species of finch

Finches are open to new food sources too...

I did not have a camera capable of underwater photos -so I can not show you the sea turtles, the sea lions, the wild array of fish, the coral, the sharks, and the swimming iguanas... pretty awesome!