|Our intrepid traveler on the tour boat dock.|
|Our tour guide started out with "Well, can you swim?"|
|Forlorn home to the red-footed boobies.|
|This is the entrance to Les Tunnels. There are rocks everywhere, with the added extra that it's very shallow.|
|White mangrove tree growing on the lava outcropping.|
Our guide (you don’t go anywhere in the Galapagos without a guide) explained this was once a molten lava field that entered the ocean, and at some point the lava tubes collapsed leaving a bay-like area littered with lava rocks. Absolutely amazing.
|Love is in the air, the beginning of the famous "boobie love dance."|
|Not much grows out on the lava flows except cactus.|
At one point, so far into the labyrinth that I would never have found my way out, we came upon several other tourist boats tied up to a lava wall. We disembarked for a short tour of the lava field where the guide showed us a nesting site for the blue-footed boobie (even you, with no ornithology experience, can identify this bird). Nearby several female blue-footed boobies sat solitary on rocks, until they heard the shrill whistle of the male bird who landed close to one of the forlorn females. The male began lifting one foot, then the other in the famous boobie mating dance (seriously, people come from all over the world to witness this). It was kind of cute to watch, with the female doing her version of the same.
We then boarded the boat and headed further into a large pool-like area, where we suited up for our snorkeling trip. Normally this would be fun but we had about 8 totally novice snorkelers, and the guide wanted everyone up close and personal. Trying to avoid having your mask kicked off was a challenge. Some really couldn’t even swim that well and had life jackets on. I was patiently videoing some yellow-fined damsel fish when all of a sudden a GoPro on an extension stick come in over my head, soon followed by its owner. I tended to hang to the back of the group, but that was a disadvantage as the guide “discovered new surprises,” like a free swimming sea horse that I never got to see. Also a stone fish that disappeared back into the camouflage.
|A green sea turtle, up close and personal. (The photos with date stamps where taken by the tour operator.)|
|Schools of beautiful yellow-tailed surgeonfish.|
|A lonely Galapagos penguin.|
|A lonely Galapagos penguin with his new friend.|
After awhile you are totally overwhelmed by the sheer richness of the environment, it’s like a primordial stew from which all life emerged. This is caused by the upwelling of the colder Humboldt Current by the warmer Counter Equatorial (or Cromwell Current) pushing all the deeper-dwelling nutrients to the surface creating a Disneyland for sea life. According to Darwin, “. . . about 25% of the known algae, invertebrates, and shore fishes [of the Galapagos] occur nowhere else on earth.”
|I couldn't pick out this sea horse from the mangrove root from two feet away.|
|White-tipped reef sharks who are hopefully sleeping.|
|He swam over to say good-bye.|
What a great day!