Friday, March 9, 2012

Galapagos Adventures

 Giant ancient tortoises, for which these islands are probably most known and famous, are amazing creatures. We had to see them. On Wednesday, we took a hike to the turtle breeding center. It was a warm, equatorial day and we had on our big straw hats as we made our way through town and onto a well maintained trail. There is a bridge, covered with marine iguanas, over a boggy area. We saw interesting birds including a small duck, and lots of marine iguanas in and out of the water. The trail went over some lava fields that have cactus and scrub brush growing.

The breeding center is quite a facility. There are tortoises of a various ages. The facility collects the eggs from the wild as well as using the ones from the facility. It seems there are enough introduced species on the islands (rats, pigs, goats and dogs) that the eggs or young tortoises cannot survive in the wild. The eggs are then incubated, hatched and the young reptiles grow to a few years before being re-released into the wild once their shells are hard enough to survive.

The large, older tortoises are amazing to look at. Not attractive, but large and quite mobile for their size.

After the thrill of finally seeing the big reptiles, we continued our walk to a quarry-like lake that had ten beautiful flamingos. We watched them do their flamingo dance – head down, backward knees bending and doing circles as their feet work up the shrimp they eat.

On our way back we saw some marine iguanas on rock near the ocean surf. We celebrated with a great lunch out at "El Faro" with the special of the day and a cold beer.

It was a great day.

On Thursday morning we had the excitement of watching a big local fishing boat come in and anchor mighty close to us. This anchorage is quite small and it already was pretty full – but big boats keep squeezing in. Luckily it's been quite calm (oh, that is until Thursday). The wind kicked up and being in tighter company it was a bit nerve-wracking.

It was also fun to watch the deliveries arrive to the island. We had been wondering how that happens as the dock is quite small and the anchorage quite shallow with lots of rocks and waves. A big ship comes in and anchors out near the channel markers. This ship, The Galapagos, then offloads its cargo unto smaller launches or little barges that go into the port. We watched cases and cases and cases of beer being delivered, bags of concrete, loads of vegetables, propane, fuel. packaged goods – it was good entertainment and employs lots of people and vessels.

We went to town later in the hopes of finding fresh fruits and veggies.

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