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Sun Apr 06 2014: Cruising the Galapagos Islands

Our route around the Galapagos takes us through a variety of different islands with different terrains and wildlife.

18 passengers + 6 crew on the Yolita II

From Puerto Ayora, we head back to the airport on Baltra Island, where we meet the rest of the passengers of the Yolita II, our floating home for the next 8 days. They're a mix of young and young-at-heart and they all speak English! It feels so good to be socializing again in our native tongue!

A freak nuclear waste spill on Genovesa Island resulted in some two-headed birds

The red-footed booby is rarer than its blue-footed cousin, even though it looks more commonplace

Neda loves all sorts of nature and she's really looking forward to seeing the wildlife. I'm not so much into it. I'm just on Galapagos so I can legitimately use the word "boobies" in every other sentence. There is a strict policy on Galapagos not to interfere with the wildlife, the rule is to always stay 4-feet or more from the animals. So basically I can look at boobies, but I can't touch them....

And so it begins.

Male frigate bird

As part of its mating ritual, the male frigate bird blows up a big red pouch under its beak to attract females. The bigger the pouch and the longer it can hold it, the more likely he is to attract a mate. They look like a chinless man trying to change a pillowcase. We walked through a whole field of these things, and the whole time I was humming "99 Luftballons"...

This guy got all the chicks

Baby blue-footed booby hiding out in the bush, safe from from predators
I had to thread my camera in to get a good picture. So cute!!!

Neda was so happy being around all these birds

It was pretty incredible how close we could get to the birds, they weren't afraid of people at all. There are so many visitors to the islands that they're so used to the human presence, especially when everyone keeps to the 4-foot rule.

If it wasn't for the 4-foot rule, I could have taken a picture of what this bird had for lunch

The heavy-lidded owl was at the top of the food chain, feeding on other birds

Sunset on Genovesa Island

We visited the Bahia Sullivan (Sullivan Bay) on Isabela Island. It's comprised mainly of lava that flowed out from the volcano but was cooled very quickly by the ocean so that it retained its molten shapes and forms.

Pinnacle Rock on neighbouring Bortolome Island is a famous Galapagos landmark

Like walking on the face of a planet designed by H. R. Giger (RIP)

We found ourselves part of a tour group

It felt very strange being a part of an organized tour. The pace of the 8-day schedule was relentless and we weren't used to having such regimented daily AM and PM activities. People paying for such a tour really get their money's worth! We make fun of people doing bus tours all the time, and here we are on the same kind of tour. I guess it's time to get off our high horse...

Volcanic lava frozen in the moment in came in contact with the ocean.
The black rock had a cool, metallic sheen to it.

"Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came..."

Neda fell down a deep crevasse. So I took some pictures. She asked for a hand. So I clapped...

Why do all turtles look like grumpy, toothless old men? "Damn kids! Get off my lawn!"

Did you know that the Spanish word for tortoise is "Galapago". That's what the islands were named after when they were first discovered.

Blue-footed booby. This picture looks like a negative.

We had come to Galapagos specifically to see the blue-footed booby, but surprisingly, I don't have many pictures of it. It's such a funny-looking bird with its cross-eyed stare, but it is Ecuador's national bird. The blue feet are such an anomaly, like seeing a tiger with pink stripes.

The Galapagos penguins are the furthest northern-dwelling pengiun in the world

They're not as majestic looking as their Emperor cousins at the south pole

We got a chance to snorkel with the penguins and they were so cute and curious about us, playfully darting in and out and all around us.

Blue-footed booby watches our dinghy tour through his home

This female turtle waited too long to lay her eggs and was caught out late in the season and died of sun exposure

Land iguana is checking out his new home

Beached coral found all over the island

A lizard scopes us out from his coral perch

This is us soaking up the heat and the sun. Totally loving it here!

"Catches thieves, just like flies...!"

We just sat and stared at these colourful crabs while they chowed down on some washed up seafood

Here there be monsters

When the first explorers landed on Galapagos, they thought these marine iguanas were monsters. Ironically, these scary-looking creatures are vegetarians, only eating seaweed and algae from the ocean floor. I tried to take an up-close video of one while snorkeling ahead of it, however as I turned around to face it, it didn't slow down or change course, but headed directly towards me. Holy crap, was that a scary sight! I quickly ducked out of its way, because, um... of the 4-foot rule, not because I'm a chicken-hearted booby....

Ever wonder what a movie audience looks like?

Neda says that she finds it so interesting how as most animals have evolved out of the water, these marine iguanas have basically evolved to be aquatic once again, finding food and sustenance in the seas. They're able to hold their breaths for long periods while eating underwater and once they're back on land, they blow the salt from the ocean waters out of their nostrils. The waves crashing on the rocky coast was constantly interrupted by the sounds of these iguanas sneezing salt into the air!

What a beautiful-looking hawk!

Would not want to be on the receiving end of those talons

Booby tucks his blue-feet in, diving into the ocean for food

You'd think these boobys would break their necks diving in to such shallow waters at those speeds, but somehow they're able to turn their bodies right after entering the water to stop from hitting the bottom.

Our last day on board the Yolita II

This was a great way to take a little vacation from our vacation. We got to make some great new friends on the boat, as well as see some cool wildlife, but most of all, we got away from the constant rains on the mainland. So glad we came to the Galapagos!

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