There are More Starfish in the Sea

Galápagos seas are amazing once you look below the surface.  Two Who Trek had opportunities to go snorkeling in the clear blue ocean. There are more starfish in the sea and we saw dozens of them.  We saw majestic schools of fish, a few white-tipped sharks, sea turtles and rays.  Joe even had a sea lion swim within two feet of him.

Ever watch a National Geographic or Discovery Channel special on the Galápagos Islands?   Remember how they would show a school of fish from top to bottom of the screen swimming, say, to the right.  Then suddenly the entire school turns to the left and flashes entirely different colors.  We had always thought that such images were unique; difficult for camera crews to capture.  Not so in real life.  Every time we snorkeled, we saw similar displays of beauty from fish schools and each time it took our breath away (which isn’t necessarily good when you are under water).

Unfortunately Two Who Trek does not have an underwater camera, so beautiful images of red sea stars, spotted eagle rays and white-tipped reef sharks are forever stored in our memories, not on our hard drives.  Fortunately our guide did have an underwater camera, which leaked a bit.  He offered his photos to the group and Julie, one of our shipmates, posted a gallery of his photos to her blog[i].  Here is a link to the underwater photos, which represent what we saw on the dives:

http://destinationhere.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/bonus-gallery-galapagos-underwater/

On land, we can take photos, and that is what we did.  Schools and pools of fish abound throughout Ecuador’s best known national park.

Spotted eagle rays in a mangrove swamp

Spotted eagle rays in a mangrove swamp

Living part of their life in water and part on land, Sally Lightfoots or red rock crabs hang on rocky shorelines and scurry to higher points when the tide rises.

Sally Lightfoot Crab aka red rock crabs

Sally Lightfoot Crab aka red rock crabs

Sally Lightfoot crabs cling to the rocks as a wave crashes ashore

Sally Lightfoot crabs cling to the rocks as a wave crashes ashore

Another Sally Lightfoot Crab

Another Sally Lightfoot Crab

The cool Humboldt Current allows the Galápagos Penguin to live this far north.  It is the only penguin that lives north of the equator in the wild.  We boarded dinghys from the San José late one afternoon and enjoyed watching these two dive off an islet.

Galapagos penguins planning their next move

Galápagos penguins planning their next move

A Galapagos penguin in mid-air, making a less than graceful plunge into the ocean

A Galápagos penguin in mid-air, making a less than graceful plunge into the ocean

A swimming Galapagos penguin.  Because we are talking about things in the ocean, it make sense to show one in the water

A swimming Galapagos penguin. Because we are talking about things in the ocean, it makes sense to show one in the water.

Other famous Galápagos residents, the endemic Marine Iguanas, share the lava rocks along the coastlines with the crabs and occasional penguin. More about them in a later post.

Marine iguana, soaking up the late day warmth from a rock

Marine iguana, soaking up the late day warmth from a rock

This truly is a world of contrasts.  Vibrantly colored crabs and more subtly shaded iguanas are juxtaposed with the classic colors of penguin. Rough and porous rocks give a jagged platform for sleek feathered penguins, sideways scurrying crabs and iguanas sailing into the sea.

A marine iguana shares the boat landing with a bunch of Sally Lightfoot crabs

A marine iguana shares the boat landing with a bunch of Sally Lightfoot crabs


[i] By the way, Julie’s blog, Destination Here, is fascinating.  She had taken a year off work to travel around the world.  She visited many off-the-beaten-path destinations and took wonderful photos which she shares.  We recommend giving it a look!

Categories: animals, background, blog, crab, ecuador, fish, galapagos, galapagos national park, penguin, photos, plants | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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