Friday AM: Punta Espinosa

The morning excursion left the ship at 8:00 for Punta Espinoza. The morning light and colors here seemed to be especially captivating and memorable.

Here we're getting off the dinghy onto a pure lava landscape. This is what they call a dry landing, but it's only dry if you're really good. It could turn into a wet landing very quickly and very easily! This is at low tide, which is why most of these rocks are exposed; it was very slippery with algae growing on most of these rocks.

Our first encounter with the marine iguanas was a little eerie: we were looking at the dark gray volcanic rock, and suddenly became aware that THE ROCK WAS MOVING! It wasn't, of course--the perfect camouflage of the iguanas made them blend in.

This picture is a dream come true for a lifelong nature lover to be just a couple of feet away from this fascinating animal! You can see the tail tracks from other iguanas who had already gone into the sea to cool down or feed.

The marine iguana is the only lizard that feeds in the sea, mainly eating seaweed and algae.

Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter from Animal Planet, visited the Galapagos Islands on one of his shows. He got down into the water right next to a marine iguana who was effortlessly clinging to the slick rocks as they were pounded by the surf. Steve kept getting beaten up by the waves (and had cuts and bruises to prove it), and finally said he was giving up because he wasn't created to live at the water's edge like the marine iguana. Evidence of intelligent design abounds everywhere!

The brightly-colored Sally Lightfoot crab almost dances across the rocks. Sue was captivated by these crabs that prove that God loves color!

We came across a small colony of about ten flightless cormorants, of which there were three nests. Each of the nests had young in them.

These two on the right are doing their mating dance, entwining their necks around each other. We got to stand about fifteen feet away from them and watch that for while. One is sitting on a nest with two nestlings on it; we didn't notice the nestlings until she got up and moved away from the nest.

We would often see the cormorants flapping their wings to dry them after feeding in the water. Birds need their wings to be dry in order to fly, These birds can't fly but they still have the flapping/drying instinct anyway.

It's interesting that the cormorants move their wings like other birds, as if they WANT to fly, but can't. The flightlessness is a huge mystery for both creationists and evolutionists. We were trying to think about why. I suggested a developmental mutation, maybe a late gene involved in final wing development that's been shut off, degraded somehow, or doesn't operate. But that doesn't explain why it would spread through the population. The reason for birds to become established in this flightless form is a mystery to everyone. And what happened to the FLIGHTED cormorants? Why aren't they in the Islands anymore?

We came across a small tidal pool containing a male and a few female sea lions. When we sat on the ledge of the pool I dangled my legs over the edge, which seemed to greatly disturb the male sea lion.

He not only started barking at me but made his way over to where I was sitting to voice his displeasure. At the guide's "suggestion," I pulled my legs up and the sea lion calmed down immediately.

He looks perturbed, doesn't he?

We returned to the ship to change into snorkel gear. At first the water was pretty cold, probably in the mid to upper 60's, and there wasn't much to see. Then the sea lions came along and started playing in and around the different snorkelers, sometimes swimming straight at us and turning only at the last second. We had heard of the fearlessness of Galapagos animals, but it was still a shock to see how playfully aggressive the sea lions were.

We also came across three different green sea turtles three to four feet long, and also followed them around a little bit.

When the tour guides learned that the hiking would be too strenuous for Sue (a polio survivor who had planned on staying on the ship), they said, "Oh no! We have to get you out there!" They invited her to go on dinghy tours, just joining whoever was in the boat.

On this morning excursion, half of the groups went hiking first, and the other half went on dinghy rides first for a shoreline tour. Sue joined this group of high school foreign exchange students. Although they were all there to work on their Spanish, the Ecuadorian guide still spoke quite a bit in English, which was very helpful!

The dinghy pilot took them within just a few feet of lava rocks where saw many blue-footed boobies. The robins'-nest blue feet are delightfully whimsical!

They get their name from bobo, the Spanish word for clown. When they do their mating dance, they pick up their big webbed feet like oversized clown shoes.

One of the students asked why their feet were blue and the guide said no one knows. Sue said quietly, "Because God likes blue!"

They also saw great numbers of Sally Light-foot crabs.The reddish orange ones are mature; juveniles are black to dark blue, allowing them natural camouflage on the lava rocks to protect them from predators. It takes five years for these crabs to mature.

The dinghy pilot got within five feet of where dozens of dark baby crabs scampered across the rocks. Sue remarked that what they were seeing could be the stuff of nightmares, and a blonde Finnish high school student next to her who was already feeling skittish scrunched up her shoulders and protested, "Please! No more talking!"

See Also

Return to Probe Home