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Wednesday, 01 September 2021

The Incubation of Evolution: The Galápagos Islands 2021 Featured

Written by Russ Firlik
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The Galápagos Islands are composed of 127 islands, of which four have permanent residents. We were very fortunate to have experienced this UNESCO World Heritage Center, merely one thousand kilometers from mainland Ecuador. Our Galapagos National Park guide Billy made this slow travel adventure especially interesting and informative for us. He was extremely knowledgeable, a keen observer of all the flora and fauna on each island, and possessed a wonderful sense of humor.

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Our first few days we explored the island of San Cristobal, where Darwin first set foot during his voyage in 1835, and now has a population of between 5,500-6,000 residents. Punta Pitt and Cerro Brujo were very special: Sea lions, pelicans, seagulls and a birder heaven. All three species of boobies- blue-footed, red- footed, and Nazca were represented here. Two species of frigate birds, finches, mockingbirds and Yellow Warblers. Cerro Brujo is one of the finest beaches in the islands. From here you can see Kicker Rock, an exceptional place to snorkel.

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Our next excursion was to Espanola Island: Punta Suarez and Gardner Islet. It is here that we observed the oversized lava lizards, waved Albatross, performing their ritual dancing. The impressive Galapagos hawk, a feared predator on the island, was seen carrying a live catch of the day to an isolated place to consume his meal. The stunning and gentle blue and Nazca footed bobbies were everywhere. In addition, the ubiquitous sea lions and the endemic mockingbird, which were friendly and bold.

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Thinking that we were in a paradise on earth, which we were, off to the inhabited island of Floreana and Punta Cormorant (meaning cormorant point in Spanish). At this large brackish lagoon we observed the endemic flightless cormorant and flamingos, with their bills upside down sweeping through the water using them as filters seeking plant matter, algae and mollusks. A stroll over the volcanic cinders lead to a sandy beach composed of finely ground coral, with lots of sea lions; some sleeping, while others play. Many marine iguanas were hanging out on the beach and rocks. Billy indicated that this was the best snorkeling spot. We explored the pirate caves, dropped two postcards at the first Post Office (circa 1793, made from an empty whiskey barrel), and found a postcard from 2017 from our nearby town in the states. Along our travels we observed the large colorful Candelabra cactus, with their wooly arms spread over the gravel-like volcanic cinders.

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Last modified on Thursday, 02 September 2021
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