World Wildlife Fund Good Nature Travel


Nature’s Close Up: The Galapagos Islands

  • Date: 04 June 2012
  • Author: Marsea Nelson, WWF Travel

I recently traveled with our partner tour operator, Natural Habitat Adventures, to the Galapagos Islands aboard the M/Y Letty. Having the opportunity to visit a place where WWF has worked for over 45 years was an incredible experience. I took hundreds of photos during my adventure; below are just a few of my favorites.

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    Swimming Sea Lion

    There are an estimated 50,000 Galapagos sea lions, and we had the opportunity to swim with them several times during the tour.

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    Giant Tortoise

    We came across this giant tortoise on Isabela Island. It was the first of many we'd see during the tour.

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    Cormorant with Octopus

    While kayaking in Tagus Cove, I came upon this cormorant attempting to eat an octopus, who was putting up an impressive fight.

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    Lagoon of Flamingos

    As long as I can remember, I'd dreamed of seeing flamingos in the wild. When we came upon a gorgeous lagoon with flamingos peacefully bobbing their heads underwater in search of fish, it was more incredible than I could have imagined.

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    Male frigatebirds have scarlet gular pouches hanging under their necks, which they inflate to football-sized balloons to attract females. Judging by the look this female was giving me, I'm not sure she was impressed.

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    Marine Iguana Swimming

    The marine iguana is the only sea-going lizard in the world. We saw hundreds, if not thousands of them during the trip.

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    Nazca Boobies

    We saw many Nazca boobies during a walk on Genovesa Island. I loved hearing the sounds they made. The males whistled while the females uttered a trumpeting quack.

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    Red-footed Booby

    The red-footed booby is the most numerous of the Galapagos boobies, but it is also the least frequently seen. This is because it is only found on the outlying islands which, luckily for us, we visited.

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    Galapagos Penguin

    For me, the highlight of my time in the Galapagos was when I was snorkeling off the beach of Urbina Bay and a small group of penguins motored right past me several times. Truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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    Lava Gull

    Considering that the lava gull is the rarest gull species in the world—only about 400 pairs are estimated to exist—I was surprised to see them multiple times during the tour.

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    Nursing Sea Lion

    On Fernandina Island we came upon this sea lion pup nursing. Its mother was tagged with a numbered green circle. Researchers tagged three colonies to track their locations, and they rely on guides to report sightings.

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    Land Iguana

    This land iguana on North Seymour Island almost seemed to be posing for us. I was able to take photos from multiple angles.

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    Blue-footed Boobies

    There's nothing like seeing a blue-footed booby—one of the icons of the Galapagos—in the wild. During my visit, we saw them several times, including a large flock flying overhead and one male performing the famous mating dance.

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    Marine Iguana

    This is one of my favorite photos from my trip. I know this marine iguana isn't actually smiling, but I love that it appears as though he is.

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    Sea Lions

    The grand finale of our tour was a visit to Sante Fe island, where we found about 200 sea lions on the beach.


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