Do you like boobies? Then you should read on… if you’re a marine biologist, maybe not!
I am here on the Galápagos Islands for one week – the most expensive week of my whole 7 months long world trip. I will be going on a cruise tomorrow, but the first 3 days I spent on Santa Cruz and Isabella. To get a first impression of the insane biodiversity you can find here.
The only down side is, the waves are massive, the inter island speed ferries are small. Luckily I only felt sick on the first of three rides. Either my body got used to it (I really hope that) or I only get sick at certain motions. But the good part is.. It’s worth it.
The first day in Santa Cruz I spent eating a delicious veggie burger, booking a package trip to Isabela (yes I went from backpacking to being guided by someone on every step and picked up by people holding signs with my name) and hanging out with sea lions. Like, they don’t give a shit, just laying and roaring around, on benches, begging for food like real dogs, sleeping on the side walks. Its so adorable and fun to watch. I checked out the beach and saw iguanas running around and sun bathing on lava. What a first day. I am actually impressed.
But the second day was even better. I took the 7 am morning ferry to Isabella and went out snorkeling at Los Tuneles right away. The landscape there is unique and stunning. It’s basically a drowned lava field, with lots of tunnels and caves. On top you have cacti and I also saw a lot of boobies. Like, so many of them, some where even dancing. And then you can watch turtles and sea lions swim around. But o.k., let me explain the boobies part now. They are actually blue footed boobies. They are birds. Not sure who came up with this name but it can be a little confusing. They do sell awesome t-shirts related to that though. They dance a lot because it’s mating season.
Under water the landscape looks quite unique, too. It’s pretty plant-y and mossy and green at parts, and we swam through the lava tunnels. Inside the lava caves there were lots of sharks just, I don’t know, hanging out I guess. We also saw A LOT of marine turtles. Two different species, some where as long as myself. Basically massive. I even saw a three legged one. They must see humans as part of their ecosystem because they did not care about us at all, the swam with us and occasionally bumped into us. I tried to take a selfie with one but my go pro wasn’t set on wide angle – hope I’ll get to see some more on the cruise. I also swam with a tiny penguin but I feel like we harassed it a little.. Poor thing, but luckily it was so much faster then we were anyway. Unbelievably cute and the end to an incredible day under water.
The next day I went hiking up to Volcán Negro, basically the world’s second largest caldera (the first largest is somewhere in Africa). At first everything was foggy, but as we kept walking through some lava fields towards nearby Volcán Chico it cleared up. Some spots and rocks were quite hot, a sign that the volcano is just dormant. The eruption aren’t explosive and there isn’t really any danger for the population, that’s why there hasn’t been any research on it apparently. Not few lizards and iguanas who live there come to sleep in those hot caves and never wake up after breathing in too much sulfur.
The Galápagos have been formed due to a hot spot underneath the Nazca Plate, which moves from west to east. Since the hot spot is stable, the youngest islands, are the furthest west (Isabella and Fernandina). Not exactly sure how old everything there is, Wikipedia said 0.05 Million years for Fernandina, 0.65 Million years for Isabela