Lava, Lizards and Seal Lions on Galapagos Islands

These guys are over two feet long tip to tail.

If our first day touring the Galapagos Islands led us to refer to the day as “Spider Island“, our second day was all about the lizards, lava, and (sea) lions. Oh my.

We had a wet landing on Isabella Island, climbing by a graffiti-strewn wall. Much of the graffiti is historic, and therefore interesting: sailors left their own names and or that of their ships high on the rock over 150 years ago. However, some of it is fairly new, showing dates in the 1960s. This vandalism is now prohibited in this Ecuadorian national park. Climbing further, we encountered our first Galapagos Moment: the Galapagos marine iguana. Every documentary you’ve ever seen on the islands features this creature. They feed on seaweed in the tidal pools and underwater, and scraping algae from rocks, and spend the rest of their time lying around on the lava beaches, soaking up the sun, pointedly not answering their cell phones or checking their emails very five minutes. They don’t even MOVE when you step around and over them. You are only aware that they are alive because they sneeze. Frequently. Living on vegetation growing in the ocean, they accumulate salt and must expel it, which they do through their nostril. Many of them have white crystals all over their heads and back. They completely ignored us.

Ascending to the higher latitude on the island really gives you a bird’s-eye view (Darwin finch, of course), which is especially lovely during the rainy season. After climbing about 200 steps, we were rewarded with views of Darwin Lake, an inland lake saltier than the ocean that surrounds the island. Our naturalist guide was helpful explaining and identifying the vegetation and geology, and discussing weather patterns.

My friends Mark and Oke in front of Darwin Lake.

Darwin Lake during dry season (

Later in the day, at a slightly wetter landing, we got to wade at high tide through a stream among the trees, in order to get to the island proper. Adventure! Fortunately, the water is not suitable for leeches or  creepy-crawly things that want to eat your feet (more on piranhas when I soon write about our trip in the Amazon). I thought this was fun, actually. The water was cool, not what I expected at the equator.

Wading through high tide

We stayed on this island until sunset (6 pm every single day of the year), looking at the weirdly beautiful lava flows and watching the sea lions play. They also ignored us completely, whether they were sleeping (mostly), scratching, nursing their pups, or swimming in the shallows. However, let another male sea lion try to sneak up and join the snooze-fest, and the alpha male would immediately get up from his sandy Lazy-Boy and chase the interloper away, even diving into the water to make sure Junior had no doubts that he was not welcome to the Old Guys Club. Then, honor satisfied, the lion would saunter back to his spot and flop himself down on the wet sand, still ignoring our presence, even through we were often merely a couple of yards away.

Below I share more pictures of this beautiful day in late March. Please enjoy.


Chasing off Junior

And don’t come back!

Sleepy sea lion sleeps.

Blue-footed boobie preens for the camera. The feet: not a color you expect to find in nature.

Eons of lava flows and the relentless pounding of the sea.

Mother and child. Ignoring us.

Two Flightless Cormorants watch the sea lion.

Everything time I saw these, I thought of the scintillating jeweled scuttling crabs of Vogsphere.

Categories: geology, Travel

Tags: , , , , , ,

5 replies

  1. Thanks for the pingback! Seems as though we may have been in the Galapagos at the same time 🙂

  2. Great photos! I enjoyed reading your blog post!

  3. How great you got to see thise up close. What a great trip! I love it.


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