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Old 01-22-2013, 09:53 AM   #226
RexBuck OP
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Jan 5 – 12 Galapagos and shelled animals

Get up early and fly to the islands. We had booked for 7 nights on the Galapagos Voyager. Boat was great and the remaining 11 passengers were even better. Had an interesting, international group: 4 Germans, 1 Swede, 2 New Zealanders, 1 New Yorker, 3 Texans and of course, 2 Canadians. Crew of 8 plus our Naturalist Guide.




With no more than 80 or so tourboats permitted in the islands and with the National Park limiting the number of boat visits to each Island and bay, the Ecuadorans have done a good job of protecting the very unique species found there.

Starting less than 5 millions of years ago, volcanic activity started to build these islands what is now some 500 miles from shore. Since the islands are 500 or so miles from shore, many animals and plants have made their way here over many thousands of years and adapted (evolved) into unique species found only here, and in some cases only on one of the many islands.

A guy named Chuck Darwin made the islands famous less than 200 years ago as the unique species he observed helped build the foundation for a couple of books he wrote. The guides prefer to call it Adaptation rather than Evolution to avoid the religious discussion but it is a very unique and interesting place.

Tortoises and turtles

Once we got off the plane, the first Island we were seeing stuff was Santa Cruz where we visited the Giant Tortoise Reserve.





Mrs RB showing off her stylin rubber boots they give you to wander around the fields while observing the big Tortoises





I think these birds will eventually discover there are faster forms of transportation





"My God!" is that thing alive . . . big animals process large quantities of groceries





The Darwin breeding station is also located on this island where they breed the Tortoises for release after they are 5 – 7 years old. This project is helping to re-establish the Tortoise herd.

We later visited Isabela Island where there is a second breeding station devoted to species of the Giant Tortoise specifically to that island. Some species of Tortoise have disappeared on this island and others are near extinction resulting from predatory actions by man, feral cats, rats and dogs along with consumption of available feed by feral rabbits. Even without all the extra predatory problems tortoises have a very low survival rate. The breeding station is producing enough tortoises of survivable size to reestablish the remaining species.





We were admiring this bunch of mature tortoises. You can tell the one with his back to us is a male as he has a big tail. The tail is where he keeps his junk . . . delicately known as his body parts responsible for propagation of the species.





Next thing we know, he has wandered over to this group of Tortoises and climbs aboard this other Tortoise. The female will try to get away but once he gets his tail in action and gets himself situated aboard, she just giving him a ride around. They will apparently do this dance for 7 or more hours. Not sure if she drags him by the fridge so he can at least grab a beer or two on the way by – would seem the considerate thing to do.






Lots of sea turtles with somewhat the same problem as the tortoises – low survival rate coupled with predators making it tough on the population. The females were laying eggs at this time of year and it seemed like every time we turned around there was a couple of turtles floating by playing wheelbarrow.






Apparently the females don’t have many morals and take on more than one male to, um . . . mix things up. They then crawl up on the beach a number of times over a few months to dig a number of nests and lay a few eggs in each. The dark marks in the water just past the surf are females waiting for dark so they can come ashore and dig a nest.





What looks like tractor tracks in the sand is the marks of the females paddling themselves up the beach. The depressions in the sand are their nests.






Of course, when the little guys pop out of the sand it’s chow time for any meat-eater in the area. Although one female will deposit at least 500 eggs over the season, she will be lucky to see one of her young reach adult size for every two or three years of her reproductive efforts.
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Old 01-22-2013, 10:19 AM   #227
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Great shots ! I have visited the islands and it is one of the most amazing places in the world.

I loved the blue footed Boobies and the very small rare penguins.

Have a great trip.
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Old 01-22-2013, 01:01 PM   #228
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:41 PM   #229
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Great pics and update RexBuck. What an adventure.
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Old 01-23-2013, 07:42 AM   #230
RexBuck OP
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Jan 5 – 12 Boobies!

Well, that’s what I thought too. However, turns out on Galapagos they are referring to three species of birds. Who’d a thunk it?



Nazca Boobies – Very prevelant. Used to be called Masked Boobies . . .





"Uhhh, apparently I'm supposed to point this way"


They don’t have many predators on this island so the Boobies just make their nest on the ground. Mom not only can warm the egg by sitting on it, she can keep it from overheating by standing up and shading it.





Will provide shade for the babies also.





There was literally thousand of them standing around like this





This is a crappy picture of a Blue Footed Boobie - they actually have bright blue feet





The Red Footed Boobie (The random feet in the background do not belong to a Boobie . . . ) - red feet and blue beak






A young one sitting in a tree trying to cool off





The distinctive split tail of the Frigate Bird





best known for the bright red chest of the male who blows it up like a balloon during mating season to attract a mate. What some guys won't do . . .






Frigate birds fishing





A juvenile before its coloring has changed. They are born white then gradually change their color as they mature.







Frigate Birds can be quite aggressive and will steal the young of others including other Frigate Birds. We saw a juvenile Frigate Bird try to take a young Boobie of about the same size - the Boobie was able to fight him off.

Galapagos gull






Lava Heron - kind of looks like Mr Burns . . .









Galapagos Short Eared Owl - likes to hide in caves. Can apparently catch some small birds on the fly






Red-billed Tropicbird





Thought this was some guy's front yard . . .









Flamingos get their distinctive color from eating shrimp in the mud








There are a couple dozen species of Darwin Finches - one of the more important birds of the islands as Darwin studied them extensively as a basis for his work





They even have a Penguin here . . . some are apparently on the northern islands making them the only species of Penguin in the Northern Hemisphere.






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Old 01-23-2013, 08:51 AM   #231
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Great shots ! I have visited the islands and it is one of the most amazing places in the world.

I loved the blue footed Boobies and the very small rare penguins.

Have a great trip.
Thanks and, thanks for following along.

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Originally Posted by moto-treks View Post
Thanks Jeff

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Originally Posted by Sunday Rider View Post
Great pics and update RexBuck. What an adventure.
Thanks Sunday
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Old 01-23-2013, 10:21 AM   #232
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Jan 5 – 12 Sea Lions, Lizards and other stuff

Tons (litterly) of sea lions lounging about.





And they will lounge anywhere







The dominate male likes to swim back and forth and make a distinctive racket to protect his brood from interlopers. However, he is so worried about other dudes sneaking a quickie behind his back that he doesn't bother to take time to eat. So, a combination of swimming back and forth, hollering and charming the ladies eventually wears him down.

Other males are always sneaking in trying to grab the eye of one of the females who are probably mad at the big guy anyhow because he just swims back and forth and yells and never buys her any jewelry. When the dominant male discovers the other guy eying up his ladies, the fight is on. Usually Mr Primo wins but eventually he has worn himself down while the new guy who is well fed, well rested and has been pushing weights lays a lickin on Primo. The new guy
can now swim back and forth acting like an 18 year old kid with a new car. Ex-Primo is then relegated to the Loosers Beachwhere all the looser males hang out, rest up, eat and pump iron so they can try to beat up some old guy and get some hot sea lion chicks.


In this video of some pups playing, you can hear the male and see his head pop out of the water a couple of times.





I seeee you . . .




The two main types of Iguana are land and see. I love these guys - they are so ugly!





The favorite food of the Land Iguana is the flower of this cactus





On islands with Land Iguanas, the cactus developes a trunk and the flowers grow out of the reach of the Iguanas like below. On islands with no Iguanas, the cactus grow low to the ground.




This guy found one of the flowers and rolled it around on the ground and in his hands, I presume to get all the spines off of it then, gobbled it down



Marine Iguanas are mostly black and have a long tail that they use to swim with



A mug only a mother could love



Godzirra . . .




To show how well they have adapted to the lava background, I counted 18 Marine Iguanas laying on the rocks in this photo




A steady supply of the very colorful Sally Lightfoot Crabs



We did a lot of snorkling and the area abounded with colorful fish and other animals. I was using my GoPro which took lousy photos and ok videos but, not worth posting. Saw sea lions (A Big Daddy was not happy when I was nearby), turtles, sharks, rays, etc. Here is a ray taken from the surface




The last day we hiked up to the top of the Sierra Negro Volcano on Isabella Island. It is one of the many active volcanoes on the islands and last erupted about 5 years ago. It just bubbled up in its caldera, part of which can be seen here. The far wall which looks like some mountains in the first pic is about 8 km away. It measures 10 km the other way.



Looking along one wall - it's a few hundred feet to the lava surface



Galapagos is a fascinating place and if you ever get the opportunity to go there, do it.
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Old 01-23-2013, 05:19 PM   #233
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Very cool! Following along! Love the Nature shots!!
Hey SR, glad to have you along and thanks for the props.

Think of you every time I come across some metal that was extracted from the ground or being extracted. Sure seems to be a lot of it around down here.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:24 PM   #234
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awesome pictures! Thanks for posting!
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:33 PM   #235
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Very cool! Following along! Love the Nature shots!!
And I've been wasting my time watching the Discovery Channel when RB give us Nature at it's best from a motorcyclists viewpoint.

Hello to Mrs RB.
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Old 01-28-2013, 05:41 PM   #236
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Hey Rexbuck

Happy New Year. Its nice to see you back on the road. Great photos indeed. Keep them coming.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:45 AM   #237
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Hey Rex and Mrs. RB

Those Galapagos shots were really good. You really have a way with photographing iguanas. I am fascinated with the tortises....are you allowed to touch them?

Have fun,

Gary
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:09 PM   #238
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awesome pictures! Thanks for posting!
Hey Court, thanks for joining in. Big props to Freedom Bike Rentals again as I thought I needed a new front tire PDQ and you folks were able to hook me right away. Many thanks. Sorry I missed you again as you were out showing some folks around Ecuador.

If any of you want to see another spectacular South American country, think about Ecuador and look up Court and his crew here If nothing else, the website has a fantastic amount of information about touring around Ecuador.
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:11 PM   #239
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And I've been wasting my time watching the Discovery Channel when RB give us Nature at it's best from a motorcyclists viewpoint.

Hello to Mrs RB.
Thanks Doug, appreciate that.
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Old 01-30-2013, 01:13 PM   #240
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Hey Rexbuck

Happy New Year. Its nice to see you back on the road. Great photos indeed. Keep them coming.
Thanks Jick. It is good getting back on the bike. Will be resuming the solo trip in a couple of days.
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