Rev 9

 

 

Galapagos – December 2007

 

 

 

Jim, Karen, Yoda, Ron, Toni, Penny and Doug

 

 

 

 

Pictures from our trip

 

 

 

Birds

Sea Lions

Lizards

Turtles

Land Tours

Underwater

 


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


Birds

 

Blue-footed Booby

Nazca Booby

Red-footed Booby

Tropic Bird

Frigate Bird

Brown Pelican

Galapagos Penguin

Galapagos Hawk

Yellow Warbler

Mocking Bird


 

 

Blue-footed Booby

   Photo by Jim Meenen

The Blue-footed Booby (Sula nebouxii) is a bird in the Sulidae family which comprises ten species of long-winged seabirds. The blue-footed booby is medium to large in size. It is on average 81 cm long and weighs 1.5 kg (3 lb), with the females slightly larger than the males. It has long pointed wings and a wedge shaped tail. They have strong thick necks. The boobies eyes are placed on either side of their bill and oriented towards the front. They have excellent binocular vision. The blue-footed boobies eyes are yellow. The male has more yellow on its iris than does the female. The blue-footed booby has permanently closed nostrils specialized for diving. They breath through the corners of their mouths. Their feet range from a pale turquoise to a deep aquamarine. Males and younger birds have lighter feet than females do.

The name “booby” comes from the Spanish term bobo, which means "stupid fellow". This is because the Blue-footed Booby is clumsy on the land, and like other seabirds can be very tame. It has been known to land on boats, where it was once captured and eaten.

The natural breeding habitat of the Blue-footed Booby is tropical and subtropical islands off the Pacific coast of South America from Peru to Mexico including, most famously, the Galápagos Islands.

  Photo by Jim Meenen

Nazca Booby “poop ring”

 Photo by Penny

Their feet are blue !!!

 Photo by Doug


Nazca Booby

  Photo by Penny

The Nazca Booby Sula granti is a booby which is found in the eastern Pacific Ocean, namely on the Galápagos Islands where it can be seen by eco-tourists, and on Clipperton Island. The Revillagigedo Islands off Baja California which possibly constitute its north eastern most limit of its breeding range.

It was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the Masked Booby but the Nazca Booby is now recognized as a separate species. Nazca boobies are known for practicing habitual siblicide. They lay two eggs, several days apart. If both eggs hatch, the elder chick will push its sibling out of the nest area, leaving it to die of thirst or cold. The parent booby will not intervene and the younger chick will inevitably die. It is believed that two eggs are laid so that one remains an insurance in case the other gets destroyed or eaten e.g. by gulls, or the chick dies soon after hatching.

 Photo by Penny

 

Learning to fly

 Photo by Penny

 

Red-footed Booby

  Photo by Penny

The Red-footed Booby, Sula sula is a large seabird of the gannet family, Sulidae. This species breeds on islands and coasts in tropical oceans. It winters at sea, and is therefore rarely seen away from the breeding colonies. It nests in large colonies, laying one chalky blue egg in a stick nest in a tree, which is incubated by both adults for 44-46 days. It may be three months before the young first fly, and five months before they make extensive flights.

Red-footed Booby pairs may remain together over several seasons. They perform elaborate greeting rituals, including harsh squawks and the male’s display of his blue throat.

This is the smallest booby, at 71 cm in length and a 137 cm wingspan. It has red legs, and the bill and throat pouch are colored pink and blue. This species has two plumage forms. The white phase is basically white with black on the flight feathers. The brown form is brown with a white belly rump and tail. Both forms may occur together, as in the breeding colony on St. Giles Island, Tobago. The sexes are similar, but young birds are greyish with browner wings and pink legs.

Red-footed Boobies are spectacular divers, plunging into the ocean at high speed. They mainly eat small fish or squid which gather in groups near the surface. Although they are powerful and agile fliers, they are particularly clumsy in takeoffs and landings.

 

 


Tropic Bird

  Photo by Jim Meenen

Tropicbirds are a group of three closely related pelagic seabirds of tropical oceans: The Red-billed Tropicbird, the Red-tailed Tropicbird, and the White-tailed Tropicbird.

Tropicbirds range in size from 76cm-102cm in length and 94cm-112cm in wingspan. Their plumage is predominantly white, with elongated central tail feathers. The three species will have a different combination of black markings on the face, back, and wings. Their bills are large, powerful and slightly decurved. Their heads are large and their necks are short and thick. Tropicbird legs are very short and their feet are totipalmate.

The Tropicbirds' call is typically a loud, piercing, shrill, but grating whistle, or crackle. These are often given in a rapid series when they are in a display flight at the colony.

Tropicbirds frequently catch their prey by hovering and then plunge-diving, typically only into the surface-layer of the waters. They eat mostly fish, especially flying fish, and occasionally squid. Tropicbirds tend to avoid multi-species feeding flocks as opposed to their sister Frigatebirds.

Tropicbirds are usually solitary or in pairs away from breeding colonies. There they engage in spectacular courtship displays. For several minutes, groups of 2–20 birds simultaneously and repeatedly fly around one another in large, vertical circles, while swinging the tail streamers from side to side. If the female likes the presentation, she will mate with the male in his prospective nest-site. Occasionally, disputes will occur between males trying to protect their mates and nesting areas.

Tropicbirds generally nest in holes or crevices on the bare ground. The female will lay one white egg, spotted brown and incubate for 40-46 days. The incubation is performed by both parents, but mostly the female, while the male brings food to feed the female. The chick hatches with grey down. It will stay alone in nest while both parents search for food, and they will feed the chick twice every three days until fledging, about 12-13 weeks after hatching. The young are not able to fly initially, they will float on the ocean for several days to lose weight before flight.

Tropicbird chicks have relatively slow growth relative to a near shore bird and they also tend to accumulate fat deposits while young. That, along with one-egg clutches, appears to be an adaptation to a pelagic lifestyle where food is often gathered in big amounts, but may be hard to find.

 

 

 

 


Frigatebird

 Photo by Jim Meenen

There are five species in the family Fregatidae, the frigatebirds. They are very closely related, and are all in the single genus Fregata. Frigatebirds attack other sea birds, hence the name. They are also sometimes called Man of War birds or Pirate birds. Since they are related to the pelicans, the term "frigate pelican" is also a name applied to them. Frigatebirds are large, with iridescent black feathers (the females have a white underbelly), with long wings (male wingspan can reach 2.3 meters) and deeply-forked tails. Frigatebirds are found over tropical oceans and ride warm updrafts. Therefore, they can often be spotted riding weather fronts and can signal changing weather patterns. These birds do not swim and cannot walk well, and cannot take off from a flat surface. Having the largest wingspan to body weight ratio of any bird, they are essentially aerial, able to stay aloft for more than a week, landing only to roost or breed on trees or cliffs.

They lay one or two white eggs. Both parents take turns feeding for the first three months but then only the mother feeds the young for another eight months. It takes so long to rear a chick that frigatebirds cannot breed every year. It is typical to see juveniles as big as their parents waiting to be fed. When they sit waiting for endless hours in the hot sun, they assume an energy-efficient posture in which their head hangs down, and they sit so still that they seem dead. But when the parent returns, they will wake up, bob their head, and scream until the parent opens its mouth. The hungry juvenile plunges its head down the parent's throat and feeds at last.

As members of Pelecaniformes, frigatebirds have the key characteristics of all four toes being connected by the web, a gular sac (also called gular skin), and a furcula that is fused to the breastbone. Although there is definitely a web on the frigatebird foot, the webbing is reduced and part of each toe is free. Frigatebirds produce very little oil and therefore do not land in the ocean. The gular sac is used as part of a courtship display and is, perhaps, the most striking frigatebird feature. The males have inflatable red-colored throat pouches called "gula pouches", which they inflate to attract females during the mating season.

Frigget Bird, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador    Male Frigatebird

 

 

Frigatebird

 Photo by Penny

 

Brown Pelican

 Photo by Penny

The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is the smallest of the eight species of pelican, although it is a large bird in nearly every other regard. It is 106-137 cm (42-54 in) in length, weighs from 2.75 to 5.5 kg (6-12 lb) and has a wingspan from 1.83 to 2.5 m (6 to 8.2 ft). It lives strictly on coasts from Washington and Virginia south to northern Chile and the mouth of the Amazon River. Some immature birds may stray to inland freshwater lakes. After nesting, North American birds move in flocks further north along the coasts, returning to warmer waters for winter.

This bird is distinguished from the American White Pelican by its brown body and its habit of diving for fish from the air, as opposed to co-operative fishing from the surface. It eats mainly herring-like fish. Groups of Brown Pelicans often travel in single file, flying low over the water's surface. The nest location varies from a simple scrape on the ground on an island to a bulky stick nest in a low tree. These birds nest in colonies, usually on islands.

 Photo by Doug


 

Galapagos Penguin

 Photo by Penny

 

The Galápagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is a penguin endemic to the Galápagos Islands. It is the only penguin to live on the equator and can survive due to the cool temperatures resulting from the Humboldt Current and cool waters from great depths brought up by the Cromwell Current. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Humboldt Penguin. The Galápagos Penguin occurs primarily on Fernandina Island and the west coast of Isabela Island, but small populations are scattered on other islands in the Galápagos archipelago.

Galápagos Penguins grow to between 48-53 cm tall. They have a black head with a white border running from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, to join on the throat. They have blackish-grey upperparts and whitish under parts, with two black bands across the breast, the lower band extending down the flanks to the thigh. Juveniles differ in having a wholly dark head, greyer on side and chin, and no breast-band.

The Galápagos Penguin mates for life. It lays one or two eggs in places such as caves and crevices, protected from direct sunlight, which can lead to the eggs overheating. One parent will always stay with the eggs or chicks while the other is absent for several days to feed. If there is not enough food available, the nest may be abandoned.

The species is endangered, with an estimated population size of around 1,500 individuals in 2004, according to a survey by the Charles Darwin Research Station. The population underwent an alarming decline of 65% in the 1980s, but is slowly recovering. It is therefore the rarest penguin species (a status which is often falsely attributed to the Yellow-eyed penguin). Population levels are influenced by the effects of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which reduces the availability of shoaling fish, leading to low reproduction or starvation. However, anthropogenic factors (e.g. oil pollution, fishing by-catch and competition) may be adding to the ongoing demise of this species. On Isabela Island, the introduced cats, dogs and rats may attack penguins and destroy their nests.

 

Galapagos Penguin

 Photo by Doug

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

Galapagos Penguin

 Photo by Doug

 

 Photo by Doug


 

Welcome home with a big hug, they were so excited – he must have been gone a long time

 Photo by Doug

 

Mates

 Photo by Doug


Looking around under water…

 Photo by Doug

 

Looking around above water

 Photo by Doug

 

Another welcome

 Photo by Doug

 

The “Letty” tourists watched the whole time

 Photo by Doug

 Galapagos Hawk

 Photo by Doug

The Galápagos Hawk, (Buteo galapagoensis), is a large hawk endemic to the Galápagos Islands, where it is one of the few terrestrial predators. At 56 cm in length, it is the islands' only endemic hawk and has no natural enemies. The adult Galápagos Hawk is almost uniformly dark brown with the female being larger than the male. The juveniles are lighter brown and heavily mottled.

This species nests in trees, and the nests can become quite large, as they are reused with new twigs added at each breeding attempt. Up to three young may be raised at a time. This hawk practices cooperative polyandry, and as many as four males may mate with a single female and all will aid the female in caring for the eggs and young (Faaborg et al. 1980).

The Galápagos Hawk hunts and scavanges, and its prey includes a wide range of Galápagos animals including lizards, young iguanas, native and introduced rats, doves, mocking birds, centipedes, grasshoppers, and various young seabirds. The female tends to take larger prey than the male (de Vries 1976). The food spectrum varies from island to island, but on every island this species is also a major scavenger. It will feed on virtually any dead animal, including the carcasses of sea lions, Marine Iguanas, seabirds and even fish.

No other bird of prey is as fearless as the Galápagos Hawk can be. Where they occur, these birds will come and investigate visitors, often approaching within a few yards. In 1845, Charles Darwin wrote:

"A gun is here almost superfluous; for with the muzzle I pushed a hawk out of the branch of a tree." The juveniles especially are the most curious. Walking along the rim of Alcedo Volcano, I have been shadowed by young hawks for over three kilometres at a time."

Study of mtDNA haplotypes of the Galápagos Hawk and its closest relative, Swainson's Hawk, indicates that the former's ancestors colonized the islands approximately 300,000 years ago, making the birds the most recent arrival known (compare to Darwin's finches, which are estimated to have arrived some 2-3 million years ago).

 

Galapagos Hawk – eating a baby Sea Lion

 Photo by Doug

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 Photo by Doug

 

Others waited their turn

  Photo by Doug

 

They could go anywhere

 Photo by Doug

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

 Photo by Doug


 

Yellow Warbler

 Photo by Doug

 

Yellow Warbler and Darwin Finch eating in tidal pools

 Photo by Doug

 

Red eye gull


 Photo by Karen

Galapagos Mocking Bird    [Insert]

 

American Oyster Catcher feeding her baby

 Photo by Karen

 

Galapagos mocking bird – they wanted fresh water and knew we had it


 

 

 

 

 

 

                            Sea Lions

 

                                    Sea Lions

                                 Fur Sea Lion

 

(This is mostly Sea Lions and it is difficult to tell them apart)

 

 


 

He just wanted to wear that backpack

 Photo by Jim

 

 

 

Sea Lions don’t usually get this much beach comfort

A backpack on your back and laying on a towel – it doesn’t get any better

 Photo by Doug

 

 

The Mocking bird knew there was fresh water in the back pack

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

 Photo by Jim

 

 

 

Beaches are for napping

 Photo by Karen

 

 

Bull Sea Lions loudly “discussing” there territory – the line was obvious to us

  Photo by Doug

 

 

Boats at seal beach

 Photo by Doug

 

 


 

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Baby waiting for mom to come home – they wait for up to 7 days. This one is a few weeks old.

 Photo by Doug


 

 

Mom coming home to an excited pup

 Photo by Doug

 

 

The seals did not seem to mind

 Photo by Karen

 

 

Mom trying to week last years pup

 Photo by Doug


 

 

Seal Lions playing

 Photo by Penny

 

 

 

 Photo by Penny

 

 


 

Iguanas

Land Iguana

Marine Iguana

 

Lizards

Lava Lizard

 Photo by Doug

The Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) is an iguana that has the unique ability among modern lizards to live and forage in the sea. It is found only on the Galapagos Islands, but has spread to all the islands in the archipelago, and is sometimes called the Galapagos Marine Iguana. It mainly lives on the rocky Galapagos shore, but can also be spotted in marshes and mangrove beaches.

On his visit to the islands, Charles Darwin was revolted by the animals' appearance, writing:

The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft) most disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them 'imps of darkness'. They assuredly well become the land they inhabit.

In fact, Amblyrhynchus cristatus is not always black; the young have a lighter coloured dorsal stripe, and some adult specimens are grey. The reason for the sombre tones is that the species must rapidly absorb heat to minimize the period of lethargy after emerging from the water. They feed almost exclusively on marine algae, expelling the excess salt from nasal glands while basking in the sun, and the coating of salt can make their faces appear white. In adult males, coloration varies with the season. Breeding-season adult males on the southern islands are the most colorful and will acquire reddish and teal-green colors, while on Santa Cruz they are brick red and black, and on Fernandina they are brick red and dull greenish.

Another difference between the iguanas is size, which is different depending on the island the individual iguana inhabits. The iguanas living on the islands of Fernandina and Isabela (named for the famous rulers of Spain) are the largest found anywhere in the Galápagos. On the other end of the spectrum, the smallest iguanas are found on the island on Genovesa.

Adult males are approximately 1.3 m long, females 0.6 m, males weigh up to 1.5 kg.

As a cold blooded animal, the marine iguana can spend only a limited time in the cold sea, where it dives for algae. However, by swimming only in the shallow waters around the island they are able to survive single dives of up to half an hour at depths of more than 15 m.  After these dives, they return to their territory to bask in the sun and warm up again. When cold, the iguana is unable to move effectively, making them vulnerable to predation, so they become highly aggressive before heating up (since they are unable to run away they try to bite attackers in this state). During the breeding season, males become highly territorial. The males assemble large groups of females to mate with, and guard them against other male iguanas. However, at other times the species is only aggressive when cold.

Marine iguanas have also been found to change their size to adapt to varying food conditions. During El Niño conditions when the algae that the iguanas feed on was decreased for a period of two years, some were found to decrease their length by as much as 20%. When food conditions returned to normal, the iguanas returned to their pre-famine size. It is speculated that the bones of the iguanas actually shorten as a shrinkage of connective tissue could only account for a 10% length change.

 

The foot !

 Photo by Penny

 


 

 

 

 Photo by Penny

 

 

We never found the go or start sign

 Photo by Penny


 

Cool swim in shallow tidal pools for veggie meals

 Photo by Penny

 

A head-butt fight between males

 Photo by Penny

 

 

 Photo by Penny

 

 

The winner

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Land Iguana

 Photo by Penny

 

 

Land Iguana

 Photo by Penny

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Turtles

 

            Giant Land Tortoise

            Sea Turtles

 

 

 Photo by Doug

Tortoises or land turtles are land-dwelling reptiles of the family of Testudinidae, order Testudines.

There are many old wives tales about the age of turtles and tortoises, one of which being that the age of a tortoise can be deducted by counting the number of concentric rings on its carapace, much like the cross-section of a tree. This is, of course, not true, since the growth of a tortoise depends highly on the access of food and water. A tortoise that has access to plenty of forage (or is regularly fed by its owner) will grow faster than a desert tortoise that goes days without eating.

Tortoises generally have lifespans comparable with those of human beings, and some individuals are known to have lived longer than 150 years. Because of this, they symbolize longevity in some cultures, such as China. The oldest tortoise ever recorded, almost the oldest individual animal ever recorded, was Tui Malila, who was presented to the Tongan royal family by the British explorer Captain Cook shortly after its birth in 1777. Tui Malila remained in the care of the Tongan royal family until its death by natural causes on May 19, 1965. This means that upon its death, Tui Malila was 188 years old.

 The record for the longest-lived vertebrate is succeeded only by one other, a Koi Fish named "Hanako" whose death on July 17, 1977 ended a 226 year life span.

The Alipore Zoo in India was the home to Adwaitya, which zoo officials claimed was the oldest living animal until its death on March 23, 2006. Adwaitya (sometimes spelled with two d's) was an Aldabra Giant Tortoise brought to India by Lord Wellesley who handed it over to the Alipur Zoological Gardens in 1875 when the zoo was set up. Zoo officials state they have documentation showing that Adwaitya was at least 130 years old, but claim that he was over 250 years old (although this has not been scientifically verified). Adwaitya was said to be the pet of Robert Clive.[2] Harriet, a resident at the Australia Zoo in Queensland, was apocryphally thought to have been brought to England by Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle. Harriet died on June 23, 2006, just shy of her 176th birthday.

 

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 Photo by Doug

 

Ron and Poky

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

Diego the oldest alive. He was found full grown in 1928 and could have been 50 to 100 years old then. He does not move much now.

 

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

 

 

Sea turtle in an inland tidal pool

 Photo by Jim

 

 

 Photo by Doug

 


 

 

 

Diving Tours

 

The Sky Dancer dive day started with a briefing from Glenda (J-Lo)

Photo by Doug

 

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark in schools

 Photo by Jim

 

 

Galapagos Shark

Photo by Jim

 

 

Galapagos Shark

Photo by Jim

 

 

 

Spotted Eagle Ray

Photo by Jim

 

 

Spotted Eagle Ray

Photo by Jim

 

 

School of Barracuda – this was an unusual tight ball of small barracudas, lots of them

Photo by Jim

 

 

Manta Ray

 Photo by Jim

 

 

Eagle Ray

 Photo by Jim


 

 

Pufferfish

Photo by Jim

 

 

We were befriended by this pufferfish who followed us for the entire dive even letting us touch him. He was still there on the second dive and followed again.

Photo by Jim

 

 

Jim and Karen took the underwater pictures

Photo by Jim

 

 

Glenda took Team “A” to the dive site

 Photo by Karen

 

 

The land – sea interface is a busy area    (Sally Lightfoot crabs, Marine Iguana and a Flightless Cormorant)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 The Agenda

 

            The day by day activities

 

       First week land tours – M/V Letty

Second week Dive tours – M/V Sky Dancer


 

Our Boats

 

First week – M/Y Letty

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Second week – M/Y Sky Dancer

 Photo by Doug


 

Day One, 10 DecFernandina Island & Isabela Island

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

Day two, 11 DecFernandia Island

 

 

Day three, 12 Dec – Bartolome and Santiago Islands

 

 


Day four, 13 Dec  Santa Cruz

 

Day Five – 14 Dec (coming soon)

Day Six – 15 Dec (coming soon)

Day Seven – 16 Dec (coming soon)

 

Day eight, 17 Dec  Transfer to the M/Y Sky Dancer  & Diving Cousins Rock

 

 

 

Day nine, 18 Dec  Diving Wolf Island

 

 

Day ten, 19 Dec  Diving Darwin IslandDarwin’s arch

 

Day Eleven – 20 Dec (coming soon)

 

Day twelve, 21 Dec  Diving Cabo Marshall

 

Day 13, 22 Dec  Diving Gordon Rocks

 

Day 14, 23 Dec  Transfer to the airport

 

 

 

 

 

Panga Rides

 

All activities started and ended with a panga ride.

A panga is a small boat, most of which are inflatables.

They hold a lot of weight and are great in rough water.

They require some skill on a rough day for the “get in and out”.

A long panga ride or a rough one is memorable.

 

On the dive week, we killed our panga and they had to replace it.

The panga drivers acted as if they were born and lived in one.

The gringos needed a lot of help getting in and out safely.

Rough water liked to collect where the pangas docked.

This is why a whole section is devoted to our pangas.

 

No matter how far we drifted in the current,

the panga drivers were waiting close by.

 

 

 Photo by Doug


 

The hell hole

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

They did not go in (the size of the wave is noticeable after looking at the second image)

 Photo by Doug

 


 

 

Wolf Volcano in the background

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

Returning from land tour

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

Loading for return trip after a land tour

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Some landings were not easy – this was slippery wet lava, the worst

 Photo by Doug

 


 

Orlando returning with the “A team”

 Photo by Penny

 

 

Adrian returning with the “B team”

 Photo by Penny


 

Panga returning from diving at Darwin’s arch

 Photo by Doug

 

 

William, one of our skilled dive panga operators

 Photo by Karen

 

 

William Team “B”

 Photo by Karen

 

 

Carlos Team “A”

 Photo by Karen

 

 

 

George and Claudia – Folks that pampered us on the M/Y Letty. They made us a cake the last night.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Land Tours

 

 

Some islands were good for land tours with the naturalists

Orlando & Adrian


Bartolome island – a hike to a very scenic volcano peak

 Photo by Doug

 

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Fernandina with Darwin Volcano in the background  (Darwin Volcano is Isabela Island)

 Photo by Doug


 

 

 

 

The lava tube

 

It started off as just a hole in the ground

 Photo by Doug

 

Penny decided to do it with sunglasses on to enhance the experience

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Doug had to light the way for Penny – she got this far with them on

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Note that Penny is the only one that needs a flashlight !!!

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Orlando explains the tunnel made by nature millions of years ago – Penny still going with the dark glasses

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Sandi and Pat

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Jim had words with Adrian about the crawling part

 Photo by Doug

 

 

The lava tube was found by a farmer looking for his cow

 Photo by Doug

 

 

Adrian got a good chuckle seeing Ron crawl

 Photo by Doug

 

 

The biggest surprise of all was the owl  (this was a very long exposure with no flash)

 Photo by Doug

 

 

 

 

 

Darwin & Wolf Islands

 

Darwin and Wolf islands are more than 120 miles north of the rest of the islands. They are in deep ocean with no shelter. Things are very different there as was the weather and water temperatures. The currents were strong with deep water up wellings which provide nutrients for the food chain which ends with the large pelagics of schooling hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, mantas and rays. The smaller fish were abundant. The up wellings make for poor water visibility compared to open ocean which made photography more difficult. The panga rides rough and the currents strong during the dives. We each took submersible EPIRBs which would allow the Sky Dancer to find us if we were lost. It has happened to other boats and getting lost in the current is a bad situation. There were no other boats there – we were on our own.

 

Some dives are described as “hang on and watch what goes by”. Other were drifting with the current although it was much faster than a ‘drift’. We had hopes of seeing the giant whale sharks, but it was the end of the season and we did not. The week before they saw three whale sharks; the week before that 4 or 5.

 

These two islands have no land tours and no beaches, just steep cliffs and are loaded with birds.

 

 

It was an all night trip to Darwin and Wolf

 

 

Doug doing a Weather Channel remote from Darwin Island (Darwin Arch) after a couple days diving there

 Photo by Karen

 



 

The crew leaving Darwin Island after some special diving around Darwin’s arch

 Photo by Doug

L>R  Penny, Ron, Jim, Karen and Yoda

 

 

Darwin in the mist

 Photo by Doug

 

 

At Darwin Arch the Sky Dancer stayed close to the pangas during the long drifts

 Photo by Doug

 

  

 Darwin’s travels  (he was correct about the strong current)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Darwin’s travels according to the Darwin Center

 

 

 

Land tours on M/Y Letty

 

 

Diving tours on M/Y Sky Dancer

 

The 14 days ended with fine weather and a fun social night on the Sky Dancer

 Photo by Doug