Steve Ewing - Steve was the videographer for our expedition. What you see above is the view we normally had of Steve - i.e. the back of his head, with his eye at the camera lens. Yes, he went everywhere that we went and his sole job was to videotape the week and create a DVD for us to take home. In addition to creating a delightful video, Steve was a pleasant traveling companion. Thanks for the memories, Steve!
Even though the Galapagos islands are located on the equator, they DO have two seasons:
Two of the naturalists told me their favorite months are the shoulder seasons of May and December - little/no rain, and warm waters.
Despite suffering from ill health throughout his life and fearing that his children would inherit his frailties, most of Darwin's surviving nine children and many of their descendants went on to have distinguished careers. Three of his sons became fellows of the Royal Society.
It's all in the genes....or is it?
Frigatebirds - There are actually two species of frigatebirds in the Galapagos: the Great and the Magnificent (how that's for redundancy?). I have to confess that I have trouble telling the difference and they're both impressive, so who cares? The females have white chests where the males have red pouches. Immature males have white patches AND red pouches; females are smart enough to ignore them. Frigatebirds are kleptoparasites (see below).
Kleptoparasites - Stealing food from other animals. Frigatebirds are especially known for this behavior, often attacking other birds, grabbing their tail feathers and shaking them until they disgorge their gullets, and then catching the food in mid-air.
Day 6 - Sombrero Chino and Santiago
“Take five-and-twenty heaps of cinders dumped here and there in an outside city lot, imagine some of them magnified into mountains, and the vacant lot the sea, and you will have a fit idea of the general aspect of the Encantadas, or Enchanted Isles. A group rather of extinct volcanoes than of isles, looking much as the world at large might after a penal conflagration."
We awoke on the morning of the sixth day to find we had traveled overnight to Hawaii - or the moon - or so it seemed. We looked out our window only to see the "heaps of cinder" that Melville described. Indeed we were at Sombrero Chino and Santiago and our lessons in vulcanology were on display right in front of our eyes.
Although all appeared rocky and barren, we quickly boarded our pangas for a tour of the shoreline. There we found a wealth of wildlife waiting to be discovered: iguanas, crabs, penguins...Take a look:
We were delighted to chance upon yet another Galapagos penguin, who stood at stark attention while we took his picture. Later in the morning when we were snorkeling he shot past us in the water like a speeding bullet!
We were also thrilled to be able to watch marine iguanas feeding on algae as we snorkeled above them. They are also quite agile swimmers, using only their thick tails to propel themselves through the water.
After lunch the Islander left Sombrero Chino (Chinese Hat) and we were better able to appreciate how the island it got its name...see the photo below. The Islander also motored past Bainbridge Islet. This consists of a sunken caldera that has a tidal pond filled from its lowest side. We were able to spot flamingos feeding on the far side of the pond. I never thought we'd be seeing penguins and flamingos on the same day!
After lunch we headed past Pinnacle Rock (below) for a walk on the lava flows of Sullivan Bay. You can see a slide show here:
That evening on board we got to see a preview of Steve's video chronicle of our trip. Yep, sign me up for one.
Uh-oh. Does that mean we're reaching the end of the trip? Well, read about the last full day of our trip at Day 7...