Baltra and Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador

Other pages from our visit to Ecuador:
Cotapaxi, Flowers, Guayaquil, Isabela, Los Tuneles, Otovalo, Puerto Grande, Quito, San Cristobal, Sierra Negra
Two small islands off the coast of Baltra.

We land and begin our adventure.

Those same little islands from the ground.

Great Blue Heron and his potential dinner at the canal.

A ferry just like the one we took to cross to Santa Cruz island.

The first Galapagos Finch we saw.
One of 14 or 15 species endemic to the islands.
This is probably a large or medium tree finch, it its hard for me to tell them apart.
If you can help me identify any of the ones on this site please send me email.

Giant tortoises
We saw the first of these immense creatures as we were driving along.
They resembled rocks in the middle of an overgrown field until one moved or raised it's head.

We soon stopped where several of them were near a swampy pond.
I had imagined that they lived in much more desert like locations.

Tortoise  poop, 4 to 5 inches (10-12 cm) long.

We were really there with them.

Not very fast but you probably couldn't stop them if you tried.

We continued on to Rancho Primicias, a privately owned reserve for the tortoises.
It reaches from the ocean to the highlands so they have a natural migration corridor.
Lots more of the giants there.

This one has a mockingbird as a passenger.

Galapagos Mockingbirds, called that because of their appearance not their calls.

This is typical of the habitat.

Some Galapagos finches, probably Medium Ground Finches.

A different species of finch. (Sharp Beaked Ground Finch??)

An empty shell gave me the chance to show how big these tortoises are.

Lunch with our crew.

Our local guide pointed out these very long pods on a tree, picked one and offered it.
Inside were "beans" covered with a white pulp.
You eat the pulp not the bean, not bad.

Next stop the lava tube.
You can see the size. 
It was formed when lava flowed here, the surface hardened and the still molten rock flowed out from under the crust.

Tables constructed from chunks of lava, not natural formations.


Down to the seashore where we saw Sally Lightfoot crabs.
They are born black but each molt shows a little more color, finally turning a brilliant red.

Here is one feeding.

The Angermeyer Inn where stayed on this island.
Very nice, highly recommended.

A Lava Lizard catching some rays.

We traveled by small boat through some interesting surf as we passed a breakwater on our way out of the harbor.

To a beach area for snorkeling and a walk along a lava beach.

My first encounter with sharks.
These were White Tip Reef Sharks.
I'll attribute the unsteady aim to learning to use a new camera not my concern for their intent.

One of the creatures that was found while snorkeling, a sea cucumber.
A lot less imposing than the sharks and a lot more like leather than we expected.

The Lava Gull (Leucophaeus fuliginosus) is one of the rarest gulls in the world, the entire population lives on the Galapagos Islands and is estimated at 400 pairs
We must have seen a large fraction of them during our visit.

They are quite a bit bigger than this accidental juxtaposition makes this one appear.
Our guide wasn't trying to capture one he just happened to move his hand into the frame as the picture was snapped.

A Frigate bird soared overhead

And much closer

Marine iguanas were everywhere.
These were sunning themselves right next to our picnic site.

Iguana for lunch.
No we didn't eat one he just stopped by.
We were getting ready for lunch when an iguana wandered through. You can see about how big he is by comparing him to the feet and trash can as he passes.

Part of the beach consisted of a mix of sea urchin spines and small shells with almost no sand.

A tiny Hermit Crab one of our group found there.

The lava beach had many cactus.

My guess is that this is a Cactus Finch.

And further along we came on many more iguanas.

And saw a battle between two males for the beautiful maiden who shows up at the end of the video.
OK, only beautiful if you are an iguana.
She is rather aloof as you can see in the final frame.

No problem getting a close look.

They weren't all on the rocks.  Here is one in the undergrowth.

And another one swimming.
They are Marine Iguanas after all.

The surf was washing over this iguana.
He had probably just come in from having a seaweed dinner.

Marine iguanas have a unique method for eliminating the excess salt they ingest when feeding underwater.
They have glands in their nose that excrete it then they more or less sneeze to eject it.
I happened to be panning past these when one chose to demonstrate.
The video has two sequences at normal speed followed by two that have been slowed by a factor of five.
A sea lion was lazing on the rocks.

And the first Blue Footed Boobies we saw.

More Sally Lightfoot crabs.

When we returned to where we had our picnic lunch we found these sea lions had moved in.

As well as this guy.

On a walk near the inn where we stayed we saw yet another kind of finch.
Probably a Large Ground Finch.

And there is no mistaking the Great Blue Heron in the pond nearby.

During a little exploration outside Puerto Ayora we found this lava tube.
Smaller but much rougher than the one we had visited earlier.
The ceiling had collapsed at one point leading to this bit of greenery.

Iguanas get big but this is a bit of an exaggeration.

Two boats that hark back to the islands early history of piracy and Darwin's visit.

Other pages from our visit to Ecuador: Cotapaxi, Flowers, Guayaquil, Isabela, Los Tuneles, Otovalo, Puerto Grande, Quito, San CristobalSierra Negra

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