The Galapagos islands are some of the most exotic islands in the world. They were studied by the famous scientist Charles Darwin and helped him come up with the theory of evolution. His theory of evolution basically states that animals will go through physical changes and adapt to their surroundings, and the animals that fail to adapt will die off leaving only the strongest species behind. The Galapagos has some unique wildlife to support this claim such as the only tropical penguins and the only marine lizards in the world. Most of the islands animals are endemic, meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world.
My first views of the Galapagos weren’t very impressive to be honest. Most of the shoreline that I first saw was made up of dead trees and some small dry shrubs. At first glanced you wouldn’t think this place is a haven for exotic wildlife. As we drove inland, the cacti began to get bigger and the terrain slowly began to get wetter as we increased in altitude. The middle of the island is actually like a rainforest and there is a noticeable temperature drop. Above are some photos of larger cacti, notice the colorful grass surrounding them. On the bottom left you can see pictures of some mossy trees in the center of the Santa Cruz island. Nearby these trees is the large depression called Gamelos. They are not the result of a caldera but probably from sink holes that have collapsed over time. The depression you see is huge; the center may look like it is small plants but those are actually very big trees.
All of the Galapagos islands were the result of volcanic activity. Vegetation has developed on most of the islands, but there are several places where you can see nothing but lava fields. On the left is a picture of one of the few plants able to survive on lava itself, so it is called the lava cactus. On the right is a lava field with an inlet separating the islands.
The two above photos are from Bartholomew island, one of the most scenic places I visited. The picture on the left focuses on the pinnacle rock and the beach. On the right is a shot of Bartholomew island from high ground. This is the most photographed point in the entire Galapagos.
Galapagos islands have some small towns with a total human population of 25,000 people. 97% of the Galapagos islands remain protected area, so the government does a good job of reducing the human impact. I really regret not taking any photos of the town itself, next time! I do have a photo though of two seals relaxing on someone’s boat.
Here are some pictures of crabs which seemed to have adapted well to the Galapagos islands. On the left is a colorful crab roaming over some moss while on the right is a colony that has made a home on some lava rocks.
The pictures above are just two typical scenes from the Galapagos. On the left is a large bird flying by a large bay. On the large is a marine lizard basking in the sun in front of a steep cliff.
The bird here flying against the sun is a frigate. When we would ride in the boats these species seemed to enjoy following us and stayed directly above the boat until we were close to the shore.
Galapagos has many species of birds and since for the most part there aren’t dense forests, they are very easy to spot. On the left is a swallow tailed gull, to the right is a Red-billed tropic bird leaving its nest.
These last photos of birds are of the Galapagos penguins, the only tropical penguins in the world. On the left are two penguins standing in front of a large lava mountain. On the second picture you can see a penguin standing on some lava rock with a cactus in the background. Normally you don’t associate penguins with lava and cacti, but in the Galapagos this is an exception.
There are lots of pelicans in the islands as well. To the left is one in some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. On the right is a pelican who had been eating from a school of fish. There was quite a feeding frenzy going on with several other birds in the area as well.
Here you can see seals from the Galapagos. On the left is one from Bartholomew island, on the right the seal is from main island of Santa Cruz. Below is a young seal pup who doesn’t look like he can be very old at all. On the lower right is another sleeping seal under a large stone.
Here are some photos of the larger lizards that live here. The orange lizard on the left makes its home on the land, while the large dark lizard on the right is a marine lizard that swims in the ocean in search of food.
Lizards are all over the island sometimes in places you wouldn’t expect. On the left is a smaller one that has climbed on top of my backpack. On the right is a land lizard that has somehow climbed to the top of a cactus and is eating it.
While I was walking along the beach I saw the tracks to my left, and originally I thought they were created by some type of bird. Later a large marine lizard passed by, and I saw that he was responsible for those tracks.
These two smaller lizards above are both different species of lava lizards. Lava lizards feed off of small insects such as the painted grasshopper on the lower left. On the lower right, one of the lava lizard has caught some type of bug but I’m not sure exactly what it is.
The Galapagos tortoise is one of the most famous animals of the islands. There are many different species of tortoises found on the islands, and they are also the biggest in the world with some weighing several hundred pounds. Above is a baby tortoise learning how to climb and survive in the rocky environment. As you can see it fell over on it’s back which can be deadly for tortoises, but it was able to recover itself. Below are some pictures of some adult tortoises. Some of them are over a hundred years old and they are still reproducing and laying eggs.