Hammerheads, vol. 1

Meet the scalloped hammerhead of the famous Gordon Rocks dive site in the Galapagos Islands.

For the record, this photo was shot blind, as my camera’s screen had flooded.

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Darwin’s feathered friends?

A guidepost for Darwin?

Galapagos finches — more a dozen different species — with their specially adapted beaks and features were among the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theories on evolution and natural selection. The finches actually played a relatively minor part in all of Darwin’s research, but they are perhaps the most renown, simply because the Galapagos drew so much attention and provided such a mysterious location for science.

They’re all over the islands today, mostly unwary of humans. They are admittedly very cute and often curious enough that it’s easy to see why they attracted Darwin’s attention.

This one comes from Tortuga Bay, not far from the main tourist center and capital of Puerto Ayora.

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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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Hold still, you big lummox

I move very slow

Meet the Galapagos giant tortoise. There are actually a number of species, all with somewhat different shell patterns and all of them under aggressive conservation problems.

They are apparently tasty, as human consumption was one of the reason that many were driven to the brink (or over it) of extinction. And while they have no natural predators, they were also threatened from introduced wildlife: goats that competed for vegetation, rats that steal eggs.

Today, however, they’re a huge tourist attraction. Safaris go looking for them in the wild and plenty are available for viewing in conservation reserves or on private farms (as above and 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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