Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Punta Suarez

Note: the videos seem to be doing some weird cropping when they're embedded, so click on them for the full view.

Just in case sunning and swimming with sea lions wasn't enough for one day, we spent the afternoon walking around Punta Suarez on the western tip of Isla Espanola. By this point I was getting used to everything exceeding my expectations by infinite proportions, but I don't think I was prepared for what we were going to see at Punta Suarez. To give you an idea, soon after we got off the dinghies and started down the trail, our guide asked, "Does anyone want to see blue-footed boobies doing their mating dance?" I was ready to borrow binoculars from someone, but not only were the birds in plain sight, they were literally standing on the trail. Unreal. They kind of stopped by the time I pulled out the video, but you can get the idea from the beginning of the video where they're picking up their feet all cute-ly.

I should probably devote a little bit of text to the marine iguanas. They're not very cute and they're everywhere, so I've kind of left them out of these entries. It's like when you're on safari and at first you think, "OMG, there's a zebra! Let's take 100 pictures and look at it for a long time," but pretty soon it turns into, "Meh, there's another zebra. Can't they do something cooler than stand there and be all stripey?" (Yes, I am aware that I have led a privileged life.) Even Darwin was unimpressed: "The black Lava rocks on the beach are frequented by large (2-3 ft), disgusting clumsy Lizards. They are as black as the porous rocks over which they crawl & seek their prey from the Sea. I call them 'imps of darkness.'" But marine iguanas do something cooler than sit there like zebras: they are the only reptiles who swim. That's pretty sweet to be able to say you're the only one in an entire phylum that will submerse yourself in water. So that's the marine iguana for you: disgusting and clumsy, but also a kind of cool freak of nature.

Apparently we picked a good time of year because this is when the waved albatross come to Espanola to nest before their next journey around the ocean. More things to check off my list of things I never thought I'd see: albatross sitting on their nests, albatross chicks, albatrosses walking (which might be the funniest thing ever), albatrosses doing their mating dance, and albatross taking off in flight. And of course all of this happened within like 20 feet of me.

Once again, I've run out of words to describe how amazing this all was, so here are the pictures. As usual, click on something to see the full album.

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