Sunday, September 17, 2017

Galapagos Islands

         
          






 June 6th-11th, 2017



 Galapagos Islands
Up close with a sleepy fur seal!
           I was fortunate enough to explore the Galapagos Islands in June of 2017. Continuing the Southern American journies, my mother, sister and I booked ourselves on a one-week cruise on the Ocean Spray luxury ship. During our days exploring the islands, my family surrounded ourselves amongst hundreds of thousands of birds, sea lions, iguanas, and other native species in the region. On our five day cruise, we visited the islands Baltra, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Genovesa, and Isabela. My personal favorite was Santa Cruz! Our travels were filled with daily snorkeling and island hopping, followed with nightly margaritas with the other fourteen passengers at the ships bar! 


Sally Lightfoot Crabs

Galapagos Penguin
        Something incredible about the islands of the Galapagos is that the entire area is protected by the Galapagos National Park Service. All of the islands are protected by dedicated wildlife and environment enthusiasts. Every day the team works to preserve the islands by collecting trash, surveying animal populations, and aiding the habitat in any way possible. 

        The OceanSpray was devoted to being environment-friendly as well. Everything was bio-degradable or recycled. We even had divers who picked up fallen trash in the ocean!

     



         Another fascinating fact about the islands is tourists can actually observe wild penguins! These penguins are native to the islands, so they are accustomed to the heat. Scientists believe they wandered over here before the countries drifted apart due to the movement of the tectonic plates.  So now, I do not have to tour the Arctic to see a wild penguin. 




Red-Footed Boobie                                                       
            This is a Red-Footed Boobie! Unfortunately, I was not able to capture any great photos of the bird's famous cousin: the Blue-Footed Boobie. These magnificent creatures native to the islands are known for their clumsiness and colorful bodies. The name comes from European colonists, who used the Spanish word "bobo" which translates to "stupid" probably referring to the bird's ungraceful, flopping-like landing.       


My Sea Lion Friend
         This is my sea-lion friend, that took a nap close to me while everyone else was snorkeling off the beach of Genovesa Island. I'm not much of a snorkeler, so I sat and read my book on the beach when this curious little guy wandered up to me and fell asleep. Our tour guide was very insistent at the beginning of our cruise that male sea-lions are incredibly dangerous, aggressive animals- and that we should do our best to steer clear of them. So, naturally, I was a bit nervous about this young male flopped up to me! But he just fell asleep and minded his own business

My Cabin's Private Deck
Santa Cruz Bar

             Of course, I'll always have time for an island margarita! Our luxury cruise always had a buffet for breakfast and lunch, complimentary with all the indulgences one could ever need! But the dinners were to die for; four-course customary meals for your specific dietary preferences. 
             
          No pizzas for me on this trip when I was catered with incredible five-star dishes! Each night the passengers were served a craft salad, a soup, an entree and then dessert with cappuccinos. 

Galapagos Tortoise!


        On the Island Santa Cruz, we had the chance to visit the Galapagos National Park headquarters. Native to the Islands, these giant tortoises actually inspired the name "Galapagos Islands". The Spanish word "Galapagos" means tortoise. During our exploration of the islands, my family had the opportunity to walk around on a tortoise conservation farm with this 150-year-old vertebrate. The photo is definitely not to scale, but this particular big boy weighed over 600 pounds!
My Sea-Lion Friend



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