Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Many Faces of the Galapagos

Get Up Close & Personal
With the Galapagos Inhabitants

The Galapagos Islands contain a unique combination of land and oceanic ecosystems, with many distinct habitats found in each. The Galapagos are located at the point where major ocean currents meet and the islands straddle the junctions between several shifting tectonic plates.

This area is truly unlike any other place on earth.

The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), one of the world's largest protected areas, has more than 2,900 reported marine species and over 18% of those live nowhere else on earth. Some of the best known coastal animals of Galapagos include sea lions, fur seals, flightless cormorants, albatrosses, three species of booby, two frigatebird species, sea turtles, the marine iguana, and penguins.

The Galapagos National Park Service works hand in hand with the Charles Darwin Research Station implementing their common goals of conservation and preservation of the natural resources with the Galapagos National Park and Galapagos Marine Reserve. The park service approves all itineraries of boats visiting the islands making sure that the tourism is distributed evenly throughout the islands. They also work as the licensing board for guides in the islands.

Meet the Inhabitants

From the time you arrive in the Galapagos until the time you depart, you will be accompanied by the naturalists who are there to instruct as well as to protect the inhabitants and the land.

Zodiac Exploration

Some of the excursions that you can select will be labeled as "low intensity".  Those trips will typically include a zodiac ride along the island exploring from the water.   The driver will get close to land, but yet the inhabitants that you'll be viewing won't be in any harm or show any concern for your presence.  They'll go about their day, most likely just resting on the rocks or looking out to sea.
Explore on Foot

The other method of exploration on the islands is on foot of course.   Both the low and higher intensity tours will usually include some walking.  The higher intensity excursions will have longer walks and may also include some more of a challenge.   Your naturalist can answer any questions about the destination to help you decide which one is right for you.

Stay between the white posts

You can see in this image that there is a marker to the left of the hikers.   It is marked with white and black stripes.   The group needs to stay between the markers at all times.  This protects the fragile environment.  Of course the inhabitants can go wherever they choose, so you may find some of them on your path.    Take all the photos you want, but be respectful at all times.

See More of the Faces

Here are some of the faces of Galapagos that you'll see when you explore the archipelago. Some of them only a mother could love while others are so cute you'll fall in love with them at first glance. Add your thoughts and we'll update the captions.

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