The Galápagos Islands, about 1,000 km off the coast of Ecuador, are rather isolated volcanic islands, whose flora and fauna famously inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection (“survival of the fittest”) as a mechanism for evolution. I visited there for a week in 2007 as part of a university course.
There are parts of the islands that are so recently volcanic that even vegetation barely grows.
The islands manage to support a wide variety of animal life, including sea birds, Darwin’s famous finches, giant tortoises, and marine iguanas. Only a few islands are inhabited by humans, and they have historically only been visited periodically by sailors, so the animals do not really have a fear of people and will allow you to get quite close.
The famous Galapagos tortoises were unfortunately used as food by the itinerant sailors, with the consequence that several subspecies on different islands are endangered or extinct. The research center there has a breeding program to help nature along. And in exciting news, a Fernandina giant tortoise (Chelonoidis phantasticus), a species last seen in 1906, was recently discovered in the wild.
You can find more wildness at the original Lens-Artist challenge, guest hosted this week by Dianne at Rambling Ranger.
Like other birds, penguins undergo “molting,” where they shed their feathers, though penguins tend to lose them all at once, or in large patches, resulting in a rather scruffy appearance like this guy.
Galápagos penguins molt once or twice a year, and it takes a couple of weeks on average each time. During the molt they avoid going in the water since they don’t have their nice waterproof feathers for warmth and protection.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition
We had just boarded the Coral I to begin our tour of the Galápagos and I was interested in getting a shot of the view from the ship’s windows as we pulled away from Baltra. Traveling around by boat was actually pretty fun!
Weekly Photo Challenge: Trio
This flightless cormorant is bringing home a treat for his mate; the seaweed is not food, but material for the nest she’s making. As their name implies, these cormorants can’t fly and have rather stumpy little vestigial wings.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Treat
This blue-footed booby parent is taking very careful care of its eggs. They will be incubated for around 41-45 days before hatching. Both parents take turns incubating, and I can’t tell whether this is mom or dad because I can’t see the eye pupils well enough (pupil size is the best visual indicator of booby sex).
This bird species almost always lays two eggs. If conditions are good, both will grow up well. But if resources are scarce, the older chick may harass or even kill the younger one to get rid of the competition.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Careful