Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Gardner Bay

After only a day and a half in the Galapagos, we had already seen a good share of sea lions. They were hanging out on buoys and boats in Puerto Ayora, basking on the rocks and beaches of Floreana, and one even swam close enough to me that I got a picture during our first snorkel.

But we should have known by then that everything in the Galapagos ends up better than you ever imagined. You want pretty water? Oh, we have endless stretches of technicolor blues and aquas. You want tortoises? We have every baby tortoise on the Islands. You want stingrays? We have them in all shapes and sizes, on the beach, in shallow water, and following you as you snorkel. You want sea lions? How about sunning yourself on the beach with them. When I look through guidebooks and postcards, they always have the best shots of cool things you know you'll probably never actually get to see. In the Galapagos, I ended up with experiences that topped the guidebooks and pictures more beautiful than any postcard I could find.

There's not much to tell about Gardner Bay--the pictures show its magic. It's a long stretch of white sand beach on Isla Espanola (alternate name: Hood Island). And it's covered in sea lions. They're just chilling on the beach, more or less ignoring all the humans oohing and aahing over them. These are not the fat smelly sea lions of Pier 39 either. They're a little bit smaller, a whole lot cuter, and significantly less smelly. I guess that open sea air in a highly protected national park is a little more ventilated than the tourist-packed San Francisco Bay.

Anyway, the pictures show it best (remember to click on the slideshow to see the full album). One note on why some of the pictures look funny. My "great investment" of a camera (which really was a good investment just for the few underwater pics I got) decided that it would be really funny if the lens cover fogged up. I have no idea how the water got in. Fortunately it did not completely destroy my fifth camera in five years, but it does make some of the pictures look foggy and/or really artistic because I messed with them on my computer.

Of course I took video. There might not be anything cuter than walking sea lions.

Oh wait, there is something cuter: walking BABY sea lions.

This guy was one of my favorites. He just wanted to hang out in the waves and roll around in the sand. Note to self: if I can't come back in my next life as a house cat, Galapagos sea lion would be an acceptable second option.

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