Where there are no bad frigates (Galapagos - Day 2)

 

So here's the thing about the animals in the Galapagos. They evolved without any major predators, so they're very naive and most of the native species don't really have a fear response. They'll just hang around right on the paths with no regard to people almost stepping on them (I'm looking at you, lava lizards).

Our first excursion where this was evident was our morning walk on North Seymour, an island which was fulllll of seabirds courting and nesting. We saw two different species of frigate - 'Great' and 'Majestic'. Our naturalist, Jeffo, told me there wan't a 'so-so' frigate much to my disappointment. Males of both species were courting the ladies with bright red gular sacks that were very sexy? 

I was also pretty entertained by the blue-footed booby chicks. They nest on the ground and once the chick grows large enough, both of the parents will go hunt for food, leaving the fluffy, white chick just chilling on the open ground by itself. It’s all very bizzare.

We went back to the boat for lunch. In the middle of chatting with some nice folks about math education reform, Leigh spotted a huge pod of dolphins off the port side of the ship. We rudely stopped mid-sentence, pointed out the pod to the other guests near us, and ran up to the bow of the ship to watch them. I confirmed that they were bottle-nose dolphins because they "looked like douches."

 

In the afternoon we relocated to Rabida, a red high-iron oxide island, for snorkeling and an afternoon walk. The snorkeling was nice, but far too short... I didn't even get pruney! We saw a healthy assortment of things, including several scorpionfish (which I didn't touch because ouch), a reef shark, a marine iguana chomping on algae underwater, and a couple small jellyfish whose stings were quickly remedied by vinegar. 

Rabida also proved to be a nice place for a quick hike as well! There were some female sea lions and pups lounging on the beach (they kicked off my obsession with taking a zillion sea lion photos), lovely palo santo trees, and dramatic red cliffs. Up until recently, the island was overrun by invasive rats, but the national park was recently able to eradicate the population with some fancy footwork to help restore the ecosystem. 

I also wanted to note that Lindblad/National Geographic provided checklists for all of the species native to the Galapagos and Leigh, the only 8-year-old on the ship, and I are having fun obsessively checking things off :)

North Seymour island

North Seymour island

Land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) snacking on a prickly pear

Land iguana (Conolophus subcristatus) snacking on a prickly pear

Blue-footed boobie adult & chick (Sula nebouxii)

Blue-footed boobie adult & chick (Sula nebouxii)

Seriously, what are you looking at? - Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii)

Seriously, what are you looking at? - Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii)

Some exciting iguanaing happening right here

Some exciting iguanaing happening right here

Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Male Magnificent frigatebirds (Fregata Magnificens) courting displays

Male Magnificent frigatebirds (Fregata Magnificens) courting displays

Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Dolphins-ho!

Dolphins-ho!

Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Seems like she's having a pretty intense dream - Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Seems like she's having a pretty intense dream - Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Rabida island

Rabida island

Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki)

Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki)