Galapagos - land and water
Ok, I saved the best for last. The birds in the Galapagos were interesting, but I am more of a mammal/reptile/fish person.
Ok, when one thinks of the Galapagos, they likely think of the giant tortoises. Even the name "galapagos" is Spanish for a type of horse saddle, which some of the tortoise shells look like. So figured I'd start with some tortoise pictures...
(click on any picture to see it in higher resolution)
Here is a close up of another tortoise's head. Do you think he looks a bit like ET?
There are farms in the area that are in the traditional range for these tortoises, and often have a lot of tortoises there. So along with growing crops, they charge a small fee for tourists to walk around and see tortoises. We did have to have a naturalist/guide with, but much of what they were doing is keeping the tourists from bothering the tortoises. Though we could still get pretty close.
When we got off the bus, our guide immediately perks up his ears, tells everyone to be quiet and motions us to follow him. We wondered what was up, as we were headed a different direction than most of the other tourists. This was what he was headed for...
The male is much larger than the female, so you can barely see her.
Check out the video of these guys - make sure you have your speakers on for full grunting effect...
Off to the sea again - there were sea turtles all over the place in the Galapagos. Here are three in one picture, taken while snorkeling.
Here is a video of one that was not bothered by my swimming next to him:
Here is a pair of white tip reef shark seen while kayaking. These guys mostly feed at night, so rest in the shallow reefs during the day.
Galapagos shark seen while snorkeling. This guy was about 10 or 15 feet down by a sea stack. I don't remember if I caught a glimpse, or was told they were there by our guide, but I dove down and saw them and got a couple of photos. It is hard to tell size in this photo, but he was maybe 5 or 6 feet long.
Marine iguanas resting on a lava rock shoreline. These are the only iguanas in the world that swim out into the ocean to eat seaweed (most iguanas live and eat on land). The small ones are females, where the large, green one is a male (lucky guy).
Marine iguana swimming - as seen from above. Caught this picture while kayaking. This guy was headed back to shore after feeding.
Marine iguana that we saw swimming as we snorkeled. This one was also heading back to shore. I tried hard to find an iguana eating underwater, but never saw one.
One of the many friendly sea lion looking to play as we snorkeled. Our guide said that the younger ones often like to play., They will swim around you, sometimes looking to have you chase them, and sometimes they would want to chase you. So you would swim underwater and do flips and such and they would stay near and play.
Here is a video of me playing with another sea lion.