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August 6, 2008

 

Friends,

 

I made it back home from the most amazing adventure. Here are some highlights from the rest of my trip; you will be hearing lots more over the weeks ahead.

While we saw some Marine Iguanas on San Cristobal, they are way more numerous on the islands without cats; the effect of feral cats is really apparent. The size of the iguana varies from island to island. It is true that when they get hot (body temperature 39 C), they rise up on their front legs and face the sun.As we sat and watchedthem

one day, relaxing after a hike, after awhile they all began picking them selves up; one after another they began to orient to the sun to cast shade on their backs and rise up to get air moving beneath.

 

On Isabella we visited Sierra Negra, the second largest crater in the world. We could see the results of the most recent lava flow. We were hoping for some volcanic activity, but although we were lucky enough to see dolphins, schools of fish leaping out of the water and 3 humpback whales, not to mention swimming with sharks, rays, and turtles, our luck did not hold. We had to content ourselves with crawling through a lava tube at Volcan Chico.

Ghost crabs disappear down holes they make on the beach, at the slightest vibration of footsteps. I waited patiently early one morning and they began to emerge again. As they feed, they roll little balls of sand, which you can see in the picture.

On one island we watched the mating rituals of the blue-footed boobies. The

female's whistle sounds like air blown across a straw. The male call is more of a quack. At another island the eggs were beginning to hatch. Some of the babies seem nearly as big as the parents, while their wings are still stunted. The parents need to care for the young about 5 months. It must take a great deal of food to feed the large nestlings.

 

-Carolyn

 

 

July 12, 2008

Dear Friends and Family,

Greetings from the Galapagos!

We arrived on the island of San Cristobol a couple of days ago. Today we had a glorious adventure. We took a boat to two tiny nearby islands: Lobo Island (Lobo is sea lion in Spanish) and Kicker Rock.

On the way to Kicker Rock we saw a pod of dolphins. As we watched, they came closer and closer to the boat. They began to leap higher and higher as they drew closer and closer until they were alongside the boat.  We were all too mesmerized and engrossed to reach for cameras. 

They stopped the boat and encouraged us to dive in before the pod moved off. We were all ready for snorkeling and quickly over the boat. The first thing I noticed was the singing - a very high pitched sound. The dolphins were around us. The water was murky with fine bubbles; they were shadowy forms to my eyes. The stronger swimmers were able to stay with them better. After a bit one came very close, to that point where you feel you can reach out and touch, but in reality it is too far off. I began to take in details as I swam closer. When I spotted the gills, I realized it was a shark passing by. Then 3 or 4 dolphins came by, chasing off the shark. By that time the dolphins moved on and we climbed back into the boat. A bit later we saw the pod again. This time I was willing to stop and get my camera. I used Susan´s lightening technique and took pictures hoping to snap one at the right moment.

The other experiences pale compared to that. We snorkeled with the sea lions and saw many beautiful fish along the rocks. I took pictures with an underwater camera; will see if any come out. It is amazing to see the sinuous bodies of the sea lions glide past, literally in touching distance. If you stay and play, you might engage them in a game of fetch. I was too taken with the variety of fish to stay and play.

Kicker Rock is a volcanic formation that rises out of the sea. We snorkeled between the two slabs you can see in the picture and later through a narrower slot. I saw anemones and sea urchins and gorgeous purple and orange fish. 
The water was wonderful; my wetsuit kept me warm. It is amazing to just drift looking into the water. Since you can’t sink in a wetsuit, it takes very little energy to snorkel.

 

Adios,

Carolyn Hollis

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