Parts 22-28 in an ongoing series of (approximately) 60 second films.
I just got back from the Galapagos Islands. It was amazing. We went snorkeling with sea lions and sea turtles, saw all sorts of animals that don’t exist anywhere else, and learned a lot while we were doing it. But instead of going on and on about how great it was, I’m going to condense the experience into two simple posts. This one has videos, and this post has photos. None of them do the experience justice.
60 Seconds in the Life of the Waved Albatross
The Waved Albatross breeds only on Espanola Island. They mate for life, so when they first hook up they go through an elaborate dance to get to know each other, so they will recognize each other when they return to the Island to mate again after they go foraging off the coast of Peru. This is what their courtship dance looks like:
60 Seconds in the Life of Sally Lightfoot Crabs
These aren’t endemic to the Galapagos, but they’re fairly abundant. It wasn’t unusual to see several dozen at a time along the rocky shores. I’ve always thought crabs looked pretty cool, like little alien robots. But I had no idea crabs could jump. Watch the background and you’ll see.
60 Seconds in the Life of Blue Footed Boobies
They have a silly name, and they look kind of silly on land. But in flight and on the hunt, Blue Footed Boobies look like another creature altogether — bomber planes. They fly around looking for schools of fish, and then dive straight into the water to grab what they can, as seen in this video. It was shot from a dinghy in choppy water, so I apologize for the shakiness:
60 Seconds in the Life of Marine Iguanas
The Galapagos Islands have the only iguanas in the world that forage in the sea. They hold their breath and dive down to eat algae for minutes at a time, and then hang out en masse on shore when they’re done. I think they were my favorite animals on the whole trip. Charles Darwin wrote about them, “The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft) most disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them ‘imps of darkness’.”
60 Seconds in the Life of Frigatebirds
Frigatebirds are the ones you may have seen photos of with the big red inflated pouches that look like balloons. They fly over water, but they never land on water. Instead, they steal from other birds like pirates in mid-air. In flight, they have incredible silhouettes, with their forked tails and pointed, angled wings. These birds were filmed flying over our boat, arriving as soon as they smelled food, presumably hoping for our scraps.
60 Seconds in the Life of Flightless Cormorants
The flightless cormorant is endemic to Galapagos, and it’s the only variety of cormorant that can’t fly. In cormorant families, both parents care for the child in the nest, but at some point the mother abandons the family to go mate with someone else. In this clip, a father cormorant watches over the baby cormorant while the mother is out getting food. Either that, or she’s out “getting food” nudge nudge wink wink.
60 Seconds in the Life of Giant Tortoises
Galapagos means “saddleback” and the islands were named for the giant tortoises that live there, some of which have shells that resemble saddles. When competing for territory, Giant Tortoises extend their necks upward, and whoever’s neck extends furthest wins. The following clip is cut short because my neck apparently doesn’t extend far enough.
Unfortunately, all this video is low-res and only goes so far in doing the islands justice. Check out the photos for more.