For this week’s challenge, I first thought of boats. Picturesque boats, like the one on the harbor (or is that harbour?) in Dingle, Ireland.
One of the best times I’ve had on a boat was our tour of the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. We spent about a week on the ship, traveling from island to island, even crossing the Equator. There were about a dozen of us university students, plus our professors, sharing a charming little yacht called the Coral I.
As zoology students, we were of course interested in sighting animals on the water. We saw sea birds, turtles, penguins, sea lions…and lizards. Yes, that’s right, the Galapagos have a swimming lizard, called the marine iguana.
Marine iguanas mostly spend their days sunning on the shore, but to feed they dive down and use their blunt teeth to scrape algae off rocks. They have some really cool adaptations for this lifestyle, including bradycardia or slowing of heart rate while under water, and “sneezing” out excess salt when back on land.
This is a picture you have to look closely at. It is the only photo I got with this famous Galápagos trifecta: blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, and a Galápagos penguin all in the same shot. Our guides were very excited to point this out to us; it’s definitely a win for a phototourist in the Galápagos.
The booby is in the top center, iguanas in the mid center, and penguin in the bottom right.
Every day was a great day on our tour of the Galápagos! Española was one of the last islands we visited and there was so much to see. Lots of interesting bird species, beautiful scenery, and some time on the beach.
Can you see the marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus)? They blend in so well with the sea-side rocks. They are cold-blooded, so during the day they huddle in groups and bask in the equatorial sunlight to raise their body temperatures. The Internet tells me a group of iguanas is called a “mess,” and this mess on Fernandina is the very picture of warmth.
The volcanic rock is fairly bare, but behind the iguanas are mangroves, which are very common on Galápagos coastlines, being mobile (mangrove seeds are buoyant) and also well able to tolerate salt water.