As I think I mentioned before, I spent the better part of July in Ecuador, and the better part of that cruising among the legendary Galapagos Isles. It was a magical time, for a lot of reasons; retracing Darwin’s steps, walking among animals and plants that exist nowhere else in the world, kicking lazily through the shallow waters to find a sea lion staring into my snorkeling mask from inches away. It was one of the most memorable times of my life, and to celebrate it, I will be posting a few pictures whenever I can’t think of anything else to write about. (Note, all pictures by the author. Yes, I am precisely that awesome.)
This first image is of the iconic birds of the Galapagos: blue-footed boobies. You may recognize them from an earlier post. This picture shows a male and female pair: the females may be distinguished from the males by their pupils, which appear larger because of black coloration surrounding them. The males perform a distinctive mating dance, which involves standing on one foot, than switching to the other, and so on back and forth. This is followed by a graceful “sky salute,” in which the male points his beak, his tail, and the “elbow” joints of his wings straight upward. This can all be seen in the video I link to above. The male in this picture shows another mating behavior: even though blue-footed boobies lay eggs on the open ground without constructing nests, males still offer nest material to prospective partners. This seems to indicate nest-building behavior in an ancestor.
These are adorable! This is a Santa Fe land iguana, a member of a species endemic to Santa Fe island. They can be distinguished from the more ubiquitous Galapagos land iguana by their lighter, more yellowish coloration, and the fact that you only see them on one island, rather than several. They also loves the cactus.
This is a ghost crab. These excitable crustaceans dig deep holes in the sandy beaches, into which they retreat when they feel threatened. They are extremely jumpy. Whenever our tour party came within thirty feet of one, it first made a run into the nearest hole (not necessarily the one from which it exited earlier), then made a tentative look around, and then dropped down its hole, out of sight. In light of this behavior, I am extremely proud of this photograph. I stood about twenty feet from an individual who hovered half-heartedly half-in, half-out of his burrow, and took a picture. Then I crept almost imperceptibly slowly until I had closed to fifteen feet, and took another picture. I continued creeping and shooting pictures until I was close enough to take the above, at which instant my subject finally grew uncomfortable and retreated into its dark lair. Patience paid off!
That’s all for now. Look for more pictures from my trip to the Enchanted Isles the next time I get bored and can’t think of anything else to write about!