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Monday, November 24, 2014

KISSED BY A PENGUIN



(For Juli--a reworked post from 2012.)

If you love animals as much as I do, put a trip to the Galapagos Islands on your bucket list! We've traveled to a lot of places & had some wonderful vacations, but this was the absolute best.

The Galapagos Islands are off the coast of Ecuador.  We took a plane from California to Florida, then another plane from Florida to Ecuador.  From there we were shuttled to the islands in a small boat, disembarked & boarded our cruise ship.  It took a long time to get there, but it was well worth it.  These islands are where Charles Darwin studied the animals & developed his theory on the evolution of man.  Whether or not you subscribe to his theory, these islands are a MUST SEE!
  
It is illegal to kill, bother or even touch the animals so they have never developed a fear of man.  When our shuttle boat brought us to the pier, there were seals sprawled out on the steps.  They’d occasionally look up at you, but they lay there like giant blobs.  You had to carefully step over them.  After all, it’s their island, not yours—you’re just a visitor.  When you take this trip I recommend that you use a small cruise ship.  We used Lindblad Lines, which were great.  There were about 60 passengers.  A small ship like ours could go places that the larger ones couldn’t get into.  We “parked”, at one time, in the caldera of an extinct volcano. (A caldera is the depression that’s formed when a volcano collapses into itself. Nature then fills it with water.)  I loved when we crossed the equator.  They told us that we could tell when we were crossing because we would feel a small bump.  I think some people actually thought they felt that bump.

We traveled to each of the islands by a zodiac; a small power boat that held about 15 people.  Our guides (college students who were studying the islands) took us on walking tours.  We saw marine iguanas, Galapagos penguins (only 16-18” tall), beautiful red & yellow “Sally Lightfoot” crabs (named that because people thought  their color & movements looked like a cabaret dancer), seals (including lots of babies), giant tortoises (who can weigh 500 pounds & live over 150 years) & MANY other animals, some of which are found nowhere else on earth.  You had to step over or around these animals, too.  There were birds everywhere—some of them quite odd.  We saw red footed boobies & blue footed boobies.  We saw frigate birds puffing up their red neck sac to attract a mate.  You’ve heard the term, “a feast for the senses”—THIS WAS IT!!

On one island, my husband decided he didn’t feel like walking.  Instead, he said he would just sit on a large rock on the beach, wait for us & enjoy the beautiful sunshine.  He was just about to sit when the rock moved!  The “rock” was a large seal that turned his head to see who was sitting on him, not that the seal really cared!

We went snorkeling in wonderfully clear waters (there were also beautiful fish) & one woman had a penguin come right up to her, face to face, & touch (kiss?) her mask with his beak!  She told us a seal had a “kissed” her at the pier, too.

My husband originally wasn’t excited about going—he went because he knew I had always wanted to go.  He now agrees—THIS WAS OUR BEST TRIP EVER!!


This is the mating dance of the blue footed booby.
The male (who is smaller) also offers the female a stick.
If she accepts it, they are married:


Unfortunately I can't find the pictures I took 
with the exception of me & Bud on the zodiac below.  
The rest of the photos I found online.

There are hundreds of sea lions:

Who sleep wherever they want:

With no fear of man:

The tortoises are huge:

But the penguins are tiny:

There are "Sally Lightfoot" crabs:

Marine iguanas:

Beautiful fish:

And hammerhead sharks:

This frigate bird really wants a mate:

A red footed booby:

But the blue footed booby is my favorite 
of all the animals & birds we saw:

That's the end of today's nature tour.
How about some cartoons:







My husband has taken me around the world, but I always found my way home!----fishducky