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Friday, January 28, 2011

Galapagos Islands: Puerto Egas & Galapagos Sea Lions and Fur Seals

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PUERTO EGAS ON SANTIAGO ISLAND

We landed on a beach of Puerto Egas. It was a wet landing again and I almost slipped. Thankfully I caught my footing and the camera and lens did not get a drop of water on it. I snapped a few shots while people were still putting on their shoes of the beaches stone arch.

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PUERTO EGAS STONE ARCH

This location has the ruins of an old salt mine which include some half ruined buildings, an overgrown soccer field and some old trails. The salt mine was run by Hector Egas in the 1960’s. The mine however did not make a profit and was closed.

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SALT MINE ABANDONED IN THE 1960’S

After the short trial inland it curves to the shore. Most of our time was spent hiking along the water.

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A BEAUTIFUL WALK DOWN THE COAST

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We were lead first to the rocky volcanic formations known as the grottoes.

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THE BEAUTIFUL GROTTOES

The water rushes in from underground volcanic tunnels and fills large holes with water as the tide comes in where it stays full for a moment before rushing right back out in a waterfall of water that is breathtaking. Tiny tidepools created by the grottoes held fascinating little ecosystems filled with plant life, mollusks and small fish.

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THE WATER IS FILLING UP

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ONLY TO RUSH BACK OUT AGAIN AND AGAIN

The grotto area also has a small natural bridge. We were trying to get a photo without anyone on the bridge but with three groups of people (16 people each) it was impossible. Instead I tried to get on the bridge to have Mr. Rogue take a photo but as you can see I got distracted by something cool and then Mr. Rogue got distracted so that is the long story of how this photo came to be.

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A PHOTO WITH TOO MANY PEOPLE AND ME NOT PAYING ANY ATTENTION TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER, PHOTO=FAIL

My favorite thing about this hike was that there were a million Galapagos Sea Lions. After the first thousand photos of them I started to realize what I was shooting. Many sea lions were mangy, flea covered, sand disasters. So I tried to focus more energy into getting subjects a little less dried up and finding poses a little bit more interesting.

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A GROUP OF SEA LIONS RESTING ON THE BEACH

Slightly smaller than California Sea Lions the Galapagos Sea Lion breeds exclusively in the Galapagos Islands. Although seen further afield on the Ecuadorian coast they will return to the islands to have their young.

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A MOTHER GALAPAGOS SEA LION NURSING HER PUP

A mother gives birth to a single pup a year and gives continuous attention to her baby. She will nurse for 11 months but continue to watch over her pups for about three years.

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A BABY GALAPAGOS SEA LION PUP

Pups are often seen napping together or playing. It is not uncommon for a mother to watch over a group of babies while the rest of the mothers go off to hunt.

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THIS LITTLE GUY WAS WAVING HI

Galapagos Sea Lions feed mainly on sardines and sometimes travel far out to sea for a few days to hunt. Sharks and Killer Blue Whales are their biggest predators.

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THEY LOVE SARDINES

Both the male and female sea lion have a long pointy muzzle and a whiskered nose.

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LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS PHOTO OF THE GALAPAGOS SEA LION WHISKERS – ONE OF MY FAVORITES

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A SEA LION BARKING AT ME FOR GETTING A LITTLE TOO CLOSE

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A GALAPAGOS SEA LION ICHES HIS FACE WITH HIS HIND FLIPPER… OR IS HE THINKING

The hardest thing about this trip I think was trying to get good quality shots of the same thing everyone else is trying to get a photo of. Most people were great about getting a photo and then moving out of the way so others behind them could get a shot. Everyone on the boat was so great! In general however I tried to hang out more to the back of the group. With my big lens and the amount of room I needed to get my shot just right it was easier than trying to compete with the crowd.

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SEA LION PHOTOGRAPHY

Wildlife photography on these islands was easy. We were able to get so close and the animals it seemed were just as curious about us as we were about them.

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I AM SO CLOSE TO THIS JUVENILE SEA LION

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MR. ROGUE POSING IN FRONT OF A LARGE BULL CROSSING THE SAND BEHIND HIM

Luckily were able to spot a few fur seals on this hike. At first glance they look very similar to the numerous sea lions all over the beach but upon a closer look you can see the lush long coat and shorter snout.

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THE FUR SEAL

Unfortunately the fear seals were hunted almost to extinction during the fur seal era of the last century. Thanks to the protection of the Galapagos Islands the population here is doing very well.

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TWO FUR SEALS

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ANOTHER PERFECT DAY, I COULD STAY HERE FOREVER

It seems like every day gets better and better; the islands are constantly surprising me with their wonders, I wake up every morning so excited for what’s next!

1 comment:

paul peggy zeus said...

So beautiful. You must have felt like Snow White with all the animals so tame around you.

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