After the excitement of seeing the first one it is then iguana for
You need to be careful where you walk as you are in danger of creating squashed iguana, which most certainly would be a breach of Park rules. Yet it's often hard to see them as their sooty black skin is perfect camouflage against the lava rock, right down to the crusty white on their heads which mimics the lichen growth. This white mohican comes from their habit of sneezing salt when they emerge from the water. A long spiny crest runs down the centre of their back from head to tail.
When we snorkel with them I almost choke - laughing and breathing through a snorkel are not complementary activities. Iguana are comical to watch as they swim along beside you, heads proud above the water, propelled along by their muscular tails. You can keep your swimming with whales or dolphins, I'll take swimming with iguana any day.
|Marine iguana swimming ashore after a day grazing on algae|
|Bigger than a 13 year old|
|The Galaxy at anchor|
In keeping with the diverse geology, different species inhabit different islands. Even when something lives on more than one island, it will be another species - for example there are ten species of Galapagos tortoise.
|sea turtle gliding along just under the surface|
While I am on this trip the hunter-gatherer is on a dive trip around the Wolf and Darwin islands further north, and on his return regales with stories of dozens of hammerhead sharks, manta rays and whale sharks as big as the Hindenburg. I am happy with my iguanas and the graceful sea turtles.
On our forays ashore we encounter more iguana - larger, more colourful and land based. They live in burrows and feed on vegetation. It is wonderful to be able to get so close and observe all the various reptiles without them skittering away. Unlike the rest of us, they have little to fear from human behaviour.
|Land iguana emerging from its burrow|
|Sea lion pup feeding|
|Crabs sizing each other up|
|Blue footed booby|
And off course there are birds, birds and more birds: Galapagos hawks, blue footed boobies, flightless cormorants, pelicans, frigate birds, swallow-tailed gulls, flamingos, not to forget a few dozen varieties of Darwin's finches - it was his study of the finches, after all, that kicked off Darwin's theory of natural selection and evolution.
It occurs to me only once I have returned home that aside from domestic animals near the couple of villages on the inhabited islands, everything is reptilian, avian, or lives in the water. The trip is akin to visiting a massive natural zoo of unusual species, not surprising when you consider the location and habitats. It's not a zoo I need to go back to, but it is one I am pleased and privileged, to have experienced - especially swimming with iguanas.
|An iguana passed this way|