The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention.
– Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches
I’m eating breakfast overlooking a small port. Sea lions are playing noisily in front of me; barking at each other, splashing on and off the pontoon. One of Darwin’s iconic finches keeps cheekily returning to my bowl to steal watermelon seeds and eat them defiantly at the table, staring me straight in the eye, one eyebrow raised.
I’m definitely back in the Galapagos Islands. Coolly confident wildlife of all shapes, colours and sizes within arm’s reach at every stage of my day.
I don a snorkel and mask for my favourite Galapagos activity. Bartolome, with its small caves and big rocks spotted with corals, lends itself well for snorkelling. Before long I find myself floating above a family of sea lions swirling underneath and around me. One particular sea lion comes up to my level and has a good look at my face. He blows some bubbles and then swoops back down to dance with his friends. I’d like to think that he recognises me from when I visited last year.
Deeper in the ocean, beyond the sea lions are some slow-moving parrotfish, stingrays resting on the seabed and a couple of large but placid Galapagos reef sharks. The wonders don’t cease when I lift my head to get my bearings and find myself looking at a reef rock, on which are perched marine iguanas, Sally Lightfoot crabs, three penguins, a heron and two Blue-Footed Boobies, all completely unperturbed by my emergence.
I bob for a while watching more boobies and some pelicans diving for fish. With bright blue feet, a mating dance straight from the ministry of silly walks, and a name that derives from the Spanish for ‘clown’, it is little wonder that people find it hard to take the blue footed booby seriously. That being said, they’re a creature of fascination, you’ll be surprised how long you can gaze at them and their peculiar rituals.
All of a sudden two lightning-quick penguins about the height of my forearm startled me. Having pushed their beaks inquisitively towards my head-mounted GoPro, they retreat bemused and a little bashful, before continuing their drag race.
Despite Charles Darwin only spending 5 weeks in the Galapagos Islands, of the mammoth 248-week voyage of HMS Beagle, his experience on the islands unearthed a far greater significance than imagined. The Galapagos simply cannot disappoint. Its wildlife cannot disappoint. Galapagos wildlife is indeed ‘eminently curious’ and not only deserve, but they do in fact command your attention.