Ramiro’s face was friendly but there was a bar of steel in his voice. “The short history of the islands when buccaneers and privateers hunted the animals by simply walking up to them and then killing them, was too short for them to genetically encode a fear of humans. They have nothing in their DNA that tells them to be afraid of us.”
The Galapagos, indeed all of Ecuador, takes the greatest care to make as little impact on the environment as possible. There was no doubt that we would all be following the rules and regulations of a visit to the Galapagos.
“The animals won’t run away from us nor will they avoid us. It will be up to us to maintain a two-metre distance from any animal or bird.” This was to prove to be tricky later. “There is to be absolutely no touching of the animals and no feeding of the animals. Stay on the paths and do not leave anything behind. The environment is to remain as pristine as we found it,” Ramiro concluded.
With that, we were ready to disembark into the pangas for our first excursion, Punta Pitt on San Cristobal Island.
Punta Pitt is the only site in the Galapagos where all three species of booby can be found together. The name booby is a corruption of the Spanish word for clown, bobo. While red-footed and blue-footed boobies can be found elsewhere, the Nazca booby is endemic (unique) to the Galapagos.
Marine iguanas, easily differentiated from the land iguanas by the narrower snout and tail, live only in the Galapagos and are unique among lizards in that they can live and forage in the sea. The iguanas are different on different islands both in size and colour.
The mama sea lions will nurse their pups for up to three years. Multiple births are rare but the mother seal will usually only accept one pup.
Here, it became terribly clear that life really is about the survival of the fittest.
Then it was back to our boat to prepare for the next day's adventures on Santa Fe Island.
This was Part I of a four-part series on the Galapagos. Stay tuned for next week's post - snorkeling with sea-lions and reef sharks!!