Thursday, April 15, 2010

Galapagos Wildlife

In the Galapagos, which is a long net of islands, 600 miles offshore, the wildlife thrives.
There are brilliant birds such as the 13 species of Darwin’s finches, penguins, and the Flamingo.

The mammals, are mainly those who live in the water, The sea lions, whales, and dolphins.

But the reptiles are probably the strangest. The marine iguana, has a body the exact color as the lava rock that it sits on, and a white crown of salt that they get from their long minutes in the water.

And there is the giant tortoise. These giants can be over four feet long. They have a serpentine head which they can pull into their shell, and swivel back and forth.

Of course, there are also the fish. Sharks, damselfish, and even sea horses!
But let’s start with the sea. The regularly seen sea horse in Isabela is this brown one blending into the mangrove branch. See if you can find it.

There are occasional whale sharks here, which are the ones with the white stripes and dotted lines. They have a blue gray body and can grow up to thirty feet but are completely harmless, (unless you are krill.)
The white tipped reef sharks prowl the seas, their fins submerged under the surface.

The Galapagos shark, which as you may have guessed, is endemic to the Galapagos. We saw many of them by Kicker Rock, (leon dormido) which is close to San Cristobal.

Don’t worry, there aren’t any great whites…
There used to be thousands of sperm whales, but the whaling ships took tons of them.
Although there are still a lot of killer whales.
The penguin, has a sleek body and a bit of a chinstrap with a pink underthroat.

This is the Galapagos sea lion. Their ears are small, like all sea lions, but these ones have large eyes. The Galapagos sea lion is a relative of the California sea lion, although the sea lions here are considerably smaller.

Then the fish, the one we have seen most is the yellow tailed damselfish, with their yellow lips.

The sergent major, which you can see just about anywhere.

There are also manta rays, and spotted eagle rays.

But now, for the birds. The greater flamingo, which is a non- native species, is often seen in the swamps and pools. They eat brine shrimp. And that is what makes them pink.

The frigate bird, of which there are two different species. The males can puff their necks up to a bright red balloon, and the females have a plain white throat. They can’t get their feathers wet, so they wait for the other birds to catch a fish and then they steal from that bird.

There are so many swallow tailed gulls, they have these red rings around there eyes, and the rest of their body is patterns of gray, white, and black. They are the only nocturnal gulls and eat squid, which they see through infrared light.

The blue footed booby, that I am sure you are familiar with. There is the famous sky pointing.

They have their mating dance and their lovely and amusing bright blue feet.

The yellow warbler, with their pretty call.

And there is the albatross. They appear to be a giant sea gull, with a white head and neck. The albatross male has a pale yellow color on the back of their heads.

Then, there is the reptiles.
The lava lizards. The males are sometimes spotted or at least brightly colored. Yet the females have a brown body with a red neck.

The marine iguana’s, which you have read about in the story ‘ugly iguana?’ are frequently spotted almost anywhere. Usually they are black, but in mating season the males turn different colors.

Sometimes they turn red.

or blue and green.

The land iguana, has a pretty yellow head that grows brighter during mating season. They eat cactus leaf, but they have to wait until one of the leaves falls to the ground, the cactuses are pretty big around here and they don’t climb.

Here is a land iguana eating a cactus leaf.

Of course, I must mention the Galapagos tortoise. There is a different sub- species of Galapagos tortoise for each island. There used to be 15 sub- species but four went extinct due to man. There are dome shaped tortoises, saddleback shaped tortoise, and intermediate, which is domed at first but at the neck part it goes up, like Miguelito’s. here is a tortoise from san cristobal island.
Here is another tortoise from Santa Cruz island.

And in Isla Isabella, there are 5 sub- species, here are two.

Notice how this Isabella tortoise has a flat shell. This is a different sub- species.
the end.

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