Monday, November 24, 2014

The Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (500 nautical mi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.
They include a national park and a biological marine reserve. Although the islands have a scant human population of 25,000 people, the most interesting inhabitants are the many and varied animals that call these islands home and which famously attracted the attention of Charles Darwin. Part of the islands has opened to travelers since February 1st, so now is a great time to go see what you can!
galapagos islands photos
A baby sea lion (less than 2 months old), Espanola Island. Unfortunately, this beautiful Galapagos island, rich in biodiversity and plant life, has faced many crises by human hands. As recent as 2008, dozens of sea lions were killed at Pinta, the nature reserve of the Galapagos Islands. 

galapagos islands photos
Galapagos does sunsets the right way - beautiful. 

galapagos islands photos
A land Iguana in yellow and red.

galapagos islands photos
A 'blowhole', quite common on the islands.

galapagos islands photos
The 'Red Sally' lightfoot crab at Islas Plazas, coming in with the tide. 

galapagos islands photos
Diving seagulls at Puerto Villamil.

galapagos islands photos
Galapagos tortoises mating

galapagos islands photos
This bizarre but stunning creature was named 'dandelion' by the discovering geologists. It was found on a 1977 expedition to the islands. We now know that is related to the Portuguese 'man-of-war' (a type of jellyfish).

galapagos islands photos
The Galapagos are also home to the flamboyant flamingos.

galapagos islands photos
San Christo Kicker Rock.

galapagos islands photos
A diamond stingray near the beach.

galapagos islands photos
The famous and iconic Giant Galapagos Tortoises. The Galapagos Giant Tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise and 10th-heaviest living reptile, reaching weights of over 400 kg (880 lb) and lengths of over 1.8 meters (5.9 ft). These giants live to see 100 years of age in the wild, and have lived up to 170 years in captivity. 

galapagos islands photos
A group of marine iguanas

galapagos islands photos
Bartolome Island, which has a beautiful bay, in the Galapagos Islands

galapagos islands photos
A young eagle making sure people obey the sign at Isabela Island.

galapagos islands photos
What is now known as 'Darwin's Arch'.

galapagos islands photos
A napping seal apparently unperturbed by the approaching crab. Maybe it's napping as well?

galapagos islands photos
The Galapagos shark is often hunted by humans, and in 2011, Ecuadorean authorities seized 357 dead sharks from an illegal fishing boat.

galapagos islands photos
Beautiful waterfall near San Christobal, Galapagos, Ecuador.

galapagos islands photos
The first island explored by Charles Darwin during his famous exploration in 1835.

galapagos islands photos
A kiss between sea lions.

galapagos islands photos
The early morning light painting this stone hill red.

galapagos islands photos
The photographer tells that this male sea lion got aggressive when he came to close, and put up a threatening display to scare him off. It worked.

galapagos islands photos
The marine iguana is found only on the Galapagos Islands, and has the ability, unique among modern lizards, to live and forage in the sea, making it a marine reptile. The iguana can dive over 9 m into the water.

galapagos islands photos
Sea lions napping together, Espanola Island.

galapagos islands photos
Swallow tailed gulls at Islas Plazas.

galapagos islands photos
A Galapagos Crab making some direct eye contact

galapagos islands photos
Besides creatures, the Galapagos Islands have many beautiful and interesting rock formations, which also serve as good places for sea lions to practice their favorite hobby - sleep.

galapagos islands photos
A large group of sea lions. Being fairly social, and one of the most numerous species in the Gal׊pagos archipelago, they are often spotted sun-bathing on sandy shores or rock groups or gliding gracefully through the surf. Their loud bark, playful nature, and graceful agility in water make them the "welcoming party" of the islands.

galapagos islands photos
Penguins on the rocks, watching both directions.

galapagos islands photos
A view at sunset.

galapagos islands photos
A marine iguana sunbathing.

galapagos islands photos
Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador. 

galapagos islands photos
The reason these birds are called blue-footed boobies. 

galapagos islands photos
Sailing away at sunset and saying goodbye to the beautiful Galapagos Islands. What a place.

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