"" Writer's Wanderings: Reminiscing: Ah, Yes--The Blue Footed Boobies of the Galapagos

Monday, September 14, 2020

Reminiscing: Ah, Yes--The Blue Footed Boobies of the Galapagos

 [So many colors in the Galapagos. Not so much the marine iguanas but most everything else is brilliant color not the least of which are the blue feet of the aptly named boobies.]

Isabela Island is the largest of the Galapagos Islands. It was formed from five volcanoes which are all still considered active. The last eruption occurred in May 2008. The place for our morning excursion is called Punta Moreno and is one of the least visited sites because of its remote location and access.

Our excursion is a zodiac ride and a walk. Our first sighting comes as the zodiac nears an outcropping of lava rocks. A Flightless Cormorant works at his morning preening. The Flightless Cormorant has no natural predators in the Glapagos. It is distinguished by its small atrophied wings. It is one of the rarest birds in the world and found only in the Galapagos.

It isn’t long before we see marine iguanas congregating on the rocks around us and swimming in the water. There are so many iguanas in Galapagos that it is impossible to not see some type of iguana no matter where you visit.

As we motor around the lava rocks along the shore, I notice the red ring of metal around the propeller of the outboard motor. It is there to protect the sea lions and other marine life from the blades. I wondered if that would be helpful to the manatees in Florida? So many are maimed by the propeller blades of motor vessels.

Soon we are among the blue footed boobies. Even from a distance, you can tell their feet are blue. Against the black lava rock, they really stand out. The blue footed boobie has a life span of 15-20 years. It fishes for its food near the shore but it can be seen diving (death defying if you ask me) into the water to go after a tasty tidbit. Sometimes the boobies will do a mass dive which really scatters the fish in a school and makes them vulnerable to the boobies. 

To attract a mate, the male blue footed boobie is said to dance. He brings his tail up, spreads his wings, and whistles toward the sky. Unfortunately we didn't get to witness this little performance. Perhaps we should have played some music?

As we near the lava rock where we will have a dry landing stepping on the rugged and often sharp lava, we are cautioned again on watching where we step not only for our safety but for the safety of the iguana that blend into their surroundings so well.

The lava is punctuated by clusters of lava cactus. The orange tips are the new growth. In the distance we can see candlestick cactus so named because they resemble candelabras.

We pass by a very green area that is actually a marshy tidal pool. To step in it would be like sinking in green quicksand. Continuing on, we come upon the tidal pool that is our destination. Tunnels from the sea lead into it and when the tide is high, marine animals find their way to the pool only to be trapped there during low tide.

Today there are four or five sea turtles swimming in the pool accompanied by three sharks. The largest of the white tipped sharks is about four feet long. We stand and watch their pacing as they make a small circle that gets wider at each pass and then the cycle starts over again.

Our group of 16 makes its way back along the trail we came on. The loose lava grinds beneath our shoes while the more solid places alternate between a smooth porous surface and waves of lava resembling melted chocolate that is cooling. Large pieces of lava that are loose make a sound as if someone has stepped on fine china.

Back on board the Xpedition, we enjoy cool drinks and a BBQ lunch. The air conditioning is nice but we find that sitting outside is pleasant. We have truly been fortunate with the weather so far. There has been a nice breeze and even though at times the humidity climbs, the heat has been bearable. As I watch the chefs cook over the charcoal grills though, I wonder how they can stand the extra heat. The food is wonderful: chicken, ribs, fish, and Galapagos lobster. A good lava walk sure builds up an appetite.

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