Lounging with lizards
How I Followed in Darwin's Galapagos footsteps --


Nicholas Bristol

References Cited: Early Explorers

I was sitting at my desk staring at my computer last night and I started to click my way through the virtual world of the Galapagos.

I wanted to go on an exhibition to a place that would be completely different then anything that I have ever experienced before. I wanted it to be some place reasonably warm and with lots of beaches and different types of environments that I could click on to. Also I love animal and I wanted a place rich with wildlife.

Boy did I choose the right web site to explore.

I found just the place; The Galapagos Islands that are located 600 miles west of the equator. There was much information and pictures there for me to explore.

There are
thirteen major islands in the Galapagos that spread out over 45,000 square kilometers. The climate there was nearly perfect, there was constantly fresh sea breeze all-day and cool refreshing winds in the night; therefore the heat was not so extreme there. During the duration of my stay on the islands there was random thunder and lightning storms. From my understanding there is about 12,000 people scattered over the islands. There are some major settlement on the island like Santa Cruz, San Cristobál, Isabela, and Floreana.

The Galapagos Islands are only two hours away from Quito the capital of Ecuador by plane. These islands are crammed with
a large variety of eccentric and rather quire animals of all kinds. Birds that no longer fly, tortoises weighing up to 500 pounds, penguins living right on the equator and blue-footed boobies doing disenchanted mating dances.

There are
two ocean currents that swirl their way around the island that allow for a huge heterogeneity and medley of marine life. The cool water from the west and the south and equatorial warmish water from the north make the snorkeling around the islands something else.

The first time in all my travels that I have seen a shark was scuba diving in the shark-infested water off the north shore. I would have never thought a simple plunge into a magical sea world could be so grisly. I was gazing at the many types of sharks that are present in the waters. There was a most alien hammerhead sharks present and I wanted to get closer and interrogate the captivating creature.

When, I got to close and one of the many WhiteTip sharks mistaken my air tank for a snake. I was shaken neurotically, the beast was in frenzy and I was a victim. I reached for my diving knife that was attached to my ankle and I managed to jab the shark in the ribs. He didn't appreciate that and let go and took off into the depts. I clearly had enough and immediately surfaced. It was time for me to hit the land.

The islands seemed to have been formed from
volcanic eruptions that accrued not to long ago. At least that was the impression I got from the seemingly fresh volcanic rock everywhere. The beaches are a starchy white and it created a strange contrast with metallic gray waters of the Pacific. There is a blue-green ocean surrounding the sheltered areas of the islands. On the beach there lay a loud barking critter the sea lion. There are thousands of them; they appear to be breeding. That's what I gathered from observing some of the strange behaviors.

Another interesting animal I ran into that I didn't even know existed was the lizard known as the
marine iguana. These guys are at least four feet long and swim in the ocean eating seaweed. I never heard of a lizard doing such a thing until I saw it with my own eyes. Later learning the nature of the freaky four legged sea snakes. Marina iguanas are a nasty creature. Some say, " they look like guardians of Hell, or condemned spirits, or dragon spawn."

There was one animal that I knew the Galapagos was famous for: the huge
land tortoise. I had to look extremely hard to find one of these wild Galapagos tortoises. I was determined and finally came across one of these incredible animals. This thing was huge. It was just moseying around munching on vegetation. It was incredible to be in the presence of such an awesome creature. From my understanding these things can live.

These could be the same animals that
Charles Darwin studied way back in 1835. Check out Darwin's diary.

The diversity of animal life was almost overwhelming. I left my computer feelling like I had visited an alien world filled with marvelous landscapes and extraordinary animals. Looking out the window at the hermetic islands I could see the volcanoes and I noticed that the volcanic eruptions where the base of the islands existence. I definitely need to go back and explore the islands in more depth of maybe in the flesh. My stay here was jammed full of majestic experiences and I didn't even hit every island. From my understanding and observations the islands characteristics change extremely from island to island. I'll be back to see it all, maybe after dinner.


 Copyright ©2000 Nicholas Bristol
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