One long, cold break

Surf heaven

The Tortuga Bay beach surf, about three kilometers from Puerto Ayora. A pleasant walk to a wonderful — if chilly, this time of year — white sand beach. Heaven.

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Messing around in the bay

Island goofing off

Crystal bay waters of the Galapagos make for a fun afternoon, after the catch has been brought in. Here a Styrofoam box becomes a makeshift boat. This was just before the kid got tipped over and went into the drink.

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Sea lions and fishmongers

Begging for scraps

The small-scale fish market in Puerto Ayora draws a crowd every day as fishermen bring, gut and hawk in their catch. And that’s not just a crowd of people.

Sea lions and pelicans also gather to pilfer and pinch scraps and sometimes whole fish. It’s a comical scene, as the fishermen are not technically allowed — National Park rules — to swat or otherwise harm the pesky-but-cute critters.

This is small-scale fishing that is generally far more sustainable (and in the Galapgos, more regulated) than elsewhere in the developing world. It’s also a significant part of the local economy, one affected by tourism, as restaurants and, at least, boats buy locally.

But having been underwater for many hours in the islands and having talked to a number of activists, it seems clear that the ocean flora and fauna remain under significant pressure.

More photos of the fishmongers below.

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One smelly, ugly, cute mug

The Galapagos version of a street dog

All over the Galapagos Islands, sea lions enjoy a special place of privilege. On the one hand, they’re protected native wildlife; on the other hand, they’re everywhere and a regular feature of docks and marinas and empty boats and piers and beaches, well, anywhere they can flop about.

They really are a bit like stray dogs or cats in any major American city, except they’re far more prominent. I spent more than a little bit of time goofing off and photographing the lazy but cute-in-an-ugly-sort-of-way bastards.

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