Ecuador - Adios Galapagos

Submitted by Danny Catt on Mon, 2007/05/07 - 2:03pm.

Galapagos Tortoise ShellGalapagos Tortoise Shell

On a week long trip to the Galapagos you can’t see all of the wildlife species that are there … but you can certainly see a large percentage. I was thrilled with the diversity of wildlife that I was able to observe and photograph but there were some species (like the Red-footed Booby) that I will have to come back to see another time. The Red-footed Booby is found only on islands which unfortunately were not included in the itinerary of The Samba.

Galapagos Sea LionsGalapagos Sea Lions

When you visit the Galapagos you need to keep your eyes open scanning the sky above you, the land below your feet and also the waters around you. The species you can see while on land are fabulous and it was a treat to see the great range of sea creatures as well. Dolphins, whales, sea lions, fur seals, turtles and an incredible array of reef fish are all possible.

Green Sea Turtle Feeding on AlgaeGreen Sea Turtle Feeding on Algae

I am not much of a swimmer but I did find myself jumping in the water with snorkel and mask (and my point and shoot waterproof camera) as often as I could. One of the highlights of the snorkelling was swimming with Green Sea Turtles and Galapagos Sea Lions. The adult turtles are primarily vegetarians and I had opportunities to watch them feeding on the algae on the sea bottom (in shallow water of course). They are fabulous swimmers and would use their front legs, modified into flippers, in a powerful yet graceful breaststroke. I also had young sea lions come check me out as I swam nearby.

Galapagos TortoiseGalapagos Tortoise

Of the terrestrial species, the Galapagos Tortoise is one of my favourites. (If you are not familiar with the difference between turtles and tortoises, turtles are typically found near or in water, whereas tortoises are more terrestrial often found far from water). Galapagos Tortoises can be massive! And some are incredibly old (some individuals have been roaming their respective island for close to 150 years). In fact… it is even possible that one of the oldest individuals on the Galapagos was around close to the time when Darwin visited the islands in 1835.

Blue-footed Booby Displaying on the Breeding Grounds, Galapagos IslandsBlue-footed Booby Displaying on the Breeding Grounds, Galapagos Islands

We were up very early (5am) on our last morning in the islands to get in our last shore visit before catching flights back to the continent. We were treated to a gorgeous Galapagos sunrise as well as an opportunity to watch a Blue-footed Booby feeding frenzy. All of the booby species in the Galapagos (Red-footed, Nazca and Blue-footed) feed on small fish and they use an impressive hunting strategy.

Blue-footed Booby in a Hunting DiveBlue-footed Booby in a Hunting Dive

They, like their northern relatives the gannets, fly above the water surface scanning the water for their small fish prey. Once the prey is located they tuck their wings and plunge like winged torpedoes into the water. From what I could gather from observation, more often than not they are successful. It is amazing to watch.

Blue-footed Booby TorpedoesBlue-footed Booby Torpedoes

The morning passed by quickly and before I knew it we were packing our bags and getting set for the trip back to the mainland. My flight was back to Quito, which is where I was to leave from for the next and final stop on my journey in South America, Cartagena, Colombia.

Submitted by Pikake on Tue, 2007/05/08 - 10:15am.
Love this photo!
Submitted by Marla (not verified) on Tue, 2007/05/08 - 2:01pm.

Hi Danny,

My last posting.  Since I guess you are home soon.  Be careful in Columbia!  It's been a fascinating journey.  The Galapagos was my favourite part.  How can one not fall in love with the blue-footed booby? :)  Such a fascinating place.  And your photos are so incredible it really makes the rest of us feel as though we have been there.  It's been inspirational on many levels.  Great job!  Enjoy the final few days of your adventure.


ps. I think the photo above should be your "Danny Catt" photo for this site :)

Submitted by Jessie Kleeberger (not verified) on Wed, 2007/05/09 - 9:04am.

Hi Danny!

     Sounds like the journey was a complete success! That's great! Your note about observing everything around you reminded me of something that read about barnacles in the Galapagos, this obviously being an observation beneath your feet, and slightly irrelavent since you are no longer there. Anyway, relatively recently a researcher/naturalist in the Galapagos documented a reduction in the number calcified plates of the outer barnacle shell of a common barnacle (Balanus balanus, I think) from 8 to 6 to 4 plates. Barnacles in the intertidal are preyed on by gastropod snails that drill through the calcium carbonate outershell and then sort of "slurp'  out the barnacle guy inside. The explanation given for this observation was that the snails tended to drill at places on the shell where the plates came together, the sutures. At these places the shell was thinner and required less energy to drill through. Also interesting, this same trend was noticed on the BC coastal intertidal zone with our common barnacle species, B. glandula,  whose main predators are Nucella sp. gastropod snails. But, most fascinating, is this evolution happening right before our eyes, or just another incredible adaptation to life in the intertidal? I am not sure if anyone knows for sure!  A bit of barnacle natural history for you. Nonetheless, it is kind of neat, especially since I have a unique interest in barnacles (long story). Welcome home, great job on the site. and look forward to hearing more about it in the fall. Have a great summer!

Jessie Kleeberger


Submitted by Leah (not verified) on Wed, 2007/05/09 - 7:43pm.

I have so enjoyed following your trip, and seeing the amazing places, people and nature along the way. I'm inspired to go visit parts of the world that I'd never have thought of otherwise.

The photos along the way have been incredible - Couldn't say which one was my favorite, but I did especially like the frogs from Ecuador! Maybe when you're home I can obtain copies for a friend - they'd make a wonderful birthday gift for a little boy who loves frogs.

 Hope you are well,


Submitted by Shelley (not verified) on Thu, 2007/05/10 - 6:34am.

Hi Danny,

What a great adventure this has been! I've been following along, and as always, your insatiable curiosity is infectious and I've learned so much, and remembered quite a bit that I had forgotten I already knew.

It will be good to have you back in communication, but sad to see the journey come to a close.

Safe travels through Columbia,