a teatray in the sky

Ecuador day 8: South Plaza and Santa Fe

Posted in 5D Mark II, Animals, Birds, Ecuador, Galapagos, Photography by firthefirst on September 15, 2011

our time in the Galapagos was almost up, but our last full day at sea would have fooled you.  it felt more like we were winding up rather than winding down.  definitely the snorkel on this day was the most exciting yet, with sea lions swirling around us, sea turtles kissing, and all sorts of other excitement.  I’ll have to ask Tina for the snorkel photos so I can post them on the blog.  but that’s later.  for now, birds and iguanas and more…

the red-billed tropicbirds are the obvious highlight of South Plaza Island.  they’re the starlets that everyone wants a photo (or two or three) of.  but of course, my favorite were the iguanas, and we were lucky to find a bunch actually doing something other than laying around.  the iguanas, both land and marine, in the Galapagos are exclusively vegetarian.  the marine iguanas eat seaweed and the land iguanas eat cacti … spines and all.  I have no idea how they don’t jab their tongues in terrible, painful ways.

lunch made you wish you could take the entire cruise ship home with you.

the afternoon was spent on a short jaunt along the beaches of Santa Fe Island, where we saw more sea lions than we’d seen anywhere else so far, just being their lazy selves as usual.

it’s amazing that they’re able to sleep at all, however, when you realize that every night these sea lions must swim through a gauntlet of white-tipped reef sharks just to get out of the lagoon and into open water.  we saw a line of sharks fanned out off the beaches just waiting for dinner to swim their way.

while you’re also initially disdainful of the fact that the calves will sustain themselves on mother’s milk for two whole years (at which point they’re practically the size of their mothers), you’re a little more forgiving when you realize their mothers entirely abandon them once those two years are up … and it’s literally time to swim with the sharks.

see, normally this is where the post ends, with dinner or a sunset.  and exactly how we thought the day would end.  sitting on the top deck, scanning the horizon en route to the Seymours, enjoying the calm blue ocean and the faint flurries of seabirds traipsing from wavecap to wavecap.

Tina let me use the binoculars and I felt very Russell-Crowe-in-Master-and-Commander.  it would have been more fitting if I’d actually spotted something through the binoculars.  it would have been even more fitting if the thing I spotted were whales (or a French frigate), since a large chunk of the story revolves around the French pillaging the British whaling fleet in the Galapagos.

and so that’s precisely what happened.

a cry of whales! went up and the captain slewed the boat hard to starboard as we sailed slowly amongst the aquatic behemoths.  we certainly didn’t get close enough to see them in any detail, but seeing them at all, and seeing the dark shadows just breaking the waves in the golden sunset … I’m sure Maturin would have enjoyed more than defeating a French frigate.

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3 Responses

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  1. Tina said, on September 15, 2011 at 11:57 am

    thanks for reminding me of the whale siting. i’d almost completely forgotten about this. 🙂

  2. The Subjectivist said, on September 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Oh! What a great spot for a getaway!

  3. John Jacob said, on September 19, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Superb clicks.. 🙂


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