Harshness and beauty on the Galapagos

Posted: February 3, 2012 by Ben Weber in English
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Another one of the key moments which led to this idea turning from just an idea into an actual plan was a journey we took a year or so ago to the Galapagos – a personal dream of mine which was so much better in reality than what I could possibly have thought.

It wasn’t just the way the place was teeming with wildlife – and really, there was so much wildlife it was unbelievable. It was the way the whole, unique, ecosystems have developed over thousands of years in isolation on the separate islands, in spite of recent human interference, with fantastic diversity of land and marine iguanas, flamingos, hawks; nazca, red and blue footed boobies (a brilliant dive-fishing birds, with rather funky mating rituals); giant tortoises; Darwin’s finches… sea lions, sea turtles, various types of shark, other beautiful fish… and this is just for starters.

Everything nature could do was right in front of our eyes within touching distance – at its harshest, with us being able to see boobies effectively discarding their weakest, second born chick; birds getting into a strop over territory… and at its sweetest, with schools of sea-lion cubs playing in the shallow water; iguanas all huddling together in efforts to maintain body temperature; and then the mating rituals of the Galapagos hawks… incredible. Animals so completely unafraid of humans, in spite of all the damage that we had done to the islands since we came across them a few hundred years by killing off species and introducing our own pets and agricultural animals.

Being there really enforced the idea of how vulnerable everything is on this planet to change and to human activities. We could have touched those sea-lion cubs with no problem, but doing that would have condemned the cub to almost certain death, as with our scent on them, their mothers would not recognize them, and no longer feed them. Before humans arrived at the islands, all the various species that inhabit them would have been so much more widespread.

Of course, this is not the only place in the world that has felt our effect – everywhere, from the poles to the equator; from the most pleasant to the most hostile places on earth, has been affected and everywhere is vulnerable, no matter how harsh the environment. Indeed, as we can see with the wildlife in the Arctic and Antarctic circles, and the high mountains of the Himalayas and the hostile jungles of the tropics, the harsher the environment, the more at risk the animals are to climate changes. If our project can help raise awareness of this even further, then I will be happy.

* * *

Blue footed Boobies  In all likelihood, the smallest of the two chicks will die as its elder sibling gets larger

  Literally, within touching distance…

 Teeming with wildlife

Taking a quick shower

Just a final shot of a (female) Galapagos Hawk

 And remembering… so sweet, so cute… but touching the sea-lion cub would lead to its death.

And of course the giant tortoises, these two of whom have most likely been living for a century or so; 11 sub-species exist on the islands – each adapted in their shape and size in order to best survive in the different environments. These, on Santa Cruz islands are best at eating low-lying food, which is abundant on the island…

  1. niki says:

    Beautiful! Looks like a great place to visit 🙂

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