Wildlife in town
Favorite thing: You don’t have to go outside town to see wildlife. If you stroll around the two piers you will definitely encounter sea lions, marine iguanas and different birds. On the old pier I have seen sea lions lying on the benches. That is not something you can see everywhere! Among the birds that I have seen around the piers are pelicans, great blue herons, a yellow warbler, a striated heron and a whimbrel. On the lava rocks below the piers there are lots of colourful sally lightfoot crabs and in the water you can sometimes see rays and small sharks.
And then of course, the fish market is a great place to watch not only the catch of the day but also pelicans and sea lions waiting for leftovers.
Photo 1: This sea lion seemed to have it very comfortable where he was lying on one of benches on the old pier.
Photo 2: Marine iguanas on the old pier. Here the iguanas were climbing up the vertical wall of the pier.
Photo 3: Great blue heron standing by the old pier.
Photo 4: White-tipped reef shark in the water below the new pier.
Photo 5: Pelican in the mangroves behind the fish market.
- National/State Park
Wildlife at Tortuga Bay
Favorite thing: You don’t need to go on an expensive cruise or daytrip to see wildlife in the Galapagos Islands. A nice and easy thing to do is to walk the trail to Tortuga Bay and walk along the beach till the end of the path. You will for sure see lots of birds and marine iguanas.
Along the 2.5 km long paved trail from Puerto Ayora to Tortuga Bay it is common to see Ground Finches and Cactus Finches, Mockingbirds and Lava Lizards. I remember seeing a Galapagos Flycatcher and a Galapagos Dove here as well.
Walking along the long white sandy beach there will be Sally Lightfoot Crabs and you will probably see some shorebirds too. In the end of the beach I have twice seen a Great Blue Heron and here there are also Marine Iguanas.
Follow the left path along the coast to the end. Here the path turns right and there, there is a place where I both times I walked here saw lots and lots of Marine Iguanas. Last time there was so many that I couldn’t continue along the path (it makes a loop) to the small protected Playa Mansa. I had to turn around and take the other way. At this part of Tortuga Bay I also saw a Lava Lizard with a small lizard in his month and it looked like he was trying to eat it (photo 5).
I have talked to people who, when they went to Tortuga Bay, only walked the trail to the beach and then not further. They did not know what they missed!
- National/State Park
Memories of Charles and of George
Favorite thing: One inhabitant we did not see at the Charles Darwin Research Centre was Lonesome George, arguably at one time the most famous tortoise in the world. Sadly he had died a few months before our visit, in June 2012. George was thought to be the sole surviving member of the Pinta subspecies (Chelonoidis abingdonii), and scientists had tried for many years to persuade him to breed, with no success – hence the nickname of Lonesome (although Fabian maintained that his failure to find success with the ladies was down to his own cantankerous nature!) Around the time of our visit however it was reported that scientists have identified at least 17 tortoises that appear to be closely related to George’s subspecies, and that they might even have found one purebred Pinta tortoise. Maybe George was not totally lonesome after all! Meanwhile his pen has been left as it was and a plaque placed beside it in memory of one who undoubtedly did a lot to draw people’s attention to the importance of preserving as much of the wildlife of these special islands (and indeed of the world) as possible.
In town, you see his image everywhere – on t-shirts, postcards and souvenirs, as decoration and graffiti, and more. It will be a long while before George is forgotten, it seems.
Of course, another character who has played a major role in shaping our perceptions of these islands is Charles Darwin, and you will see him around town too! The main street is named after him (Avenida Charles Darwin), as is the research centre, and a bust of the famous naturalist sits on the roundabout at the eastern end of the main street, along with a colourful arch which also depicts some of the archipelago’s most iconic species (see photo four). The inscription below the former describes his work as a natural historian that made him famous worldwide, his journey on the Beagle, and the part played by the Galápagos Islands in shaping his “Theory on the Evolution of the Species”.
From the Research Centre we walked into town where we drawn to the activity around the fish market.
- National/State Park
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