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Friday, May 12, 2017

Galapagos Grandure - Life on Land

We finally did it. We went to the birth place of Darwin's theory of evolution. You know how, sometimes, when you've heard rave reviews about something you go see for yourself and you think "meh"? That didn't happen...the Galapagos islands paid off big time - so big that I have to do several posts. On this one, I'm looking at life on land. From iguanas and tortoises to bitty lizards - life abounds.

The Galapagos was (actually, still is being) formed by volcanoes, just like Hawaii. The theory is that as the tectonic plates shift, openings are created allowing the magma/lava to surge up and start the process of land building. As the lava field moves underneath the older islands start sinking back into the sea, which explains how the species that live there can be older than the islands themselves. A bit of drifting in strong winds from the coast and island hopping and voila! Mystery solved.

The very first creatures we saw were iguanas, marine iguanas and they were dark, almost black and had blunt front noses, but seemed to be smiling in the sunshine.(I think they're kind of cute, actually.)
Iguana yoga...this is the cobra

Moisturizer is key, but he doesn't know that
Next came the land iguanas. They tend to have a larger range of colours and there are about three different varieties on the islands. Sadly, I never got to see a rose iguana, but apparently, they're quite rare and only live on the far islands. These guys are the red iguanas, but their crests turn turquoise when mating.
Chillin' on the rocks
Blue is the fashion when mating
It's a rough life

Iguana meditation - "Be the rock. I am the rock."

Then there's the wealth of little lizards running around. This guy does push ups to show the ladies that he's fit. The girls show off there red throats and faces to attract the men.

But, I can't forget the tortoises. Their population was at risk due to an "introduced" species...the black rat. The rodents feed and disrupt the eggs, so no new turtles and tortoises were hatching. So the Darwin Centre on Isla Santa Cruz came to the rescue. They started digging up the nests before they could be messed with and raising the little guys themselves. They hatchlings stay in the centre for 5 years (making them "rat proof" before they're released back to their original islands. One of the tortoises that stays permanently is named Diego (also know as "Super Diego") he was someone's pet before he came to the centre and is the proud father of over 800 offspring. He's quite popular with the ladies. There's two types of tortoise, the humpback, who feed off the ground, and saddle backs who feed off the bushes and trees. Their shell design has adapted for their specific feeding style.
Humpbacked tortoise offering the classic pose
to please the tourists
Foot detail
They do go in the water and can float, if necessary
Me, honouring the 2 meter distance rule
Saddle back tortoise
Super Diego, being coy
Just to give you an idea of the size of these guys, here's a picture of Ron in a tortoise shell.
Hard to lift up the head in a humpback shell
Extreme push-ups
The next installation will feature life in the water, then bird life, the amphibious creatures, the flora and landscapes and finally, Galapagos cruising tips. Be patient, it's still hard for me to sit for long periods of time, so this may take a while.


  1. I like your comments you included with the lizard pictures. I found this very interesting. Thanks for taking us along with you! -Jenn

  2. Glad you're enjoying the blog. The reptiles are so goofy that they make me silly!