March 2012: Spring 2012, Jim and I experienced a trip of a lifetime. We visited the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos archipelago is located about 1,000 km from continental Ecuador and is composed of 127 islands, islets and rocks, of which 19 are large and 4 are inhabited. 97% of the total emerged surface (7,665,100 ha) was declared National Park in 1959. Human settlements are restricted to the remaining 3% in specifically zoned rural and urban areas on four islands (a fifth island only has an airport, tourism dock, fuel containment, and military facilities). The islands are surrounded by the Galapagos Marine Reserve which was created in 1986 (70,000 km2) and extended to its current area (133,000 km2) in 1998, making it one of the largest marine reserves in the world. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1
Our explorations began with a flight from Ottawa, to Florida, and then Florida to Quito, Equador- 3,135 miles. We then flew from Quito to the Island of Balta. During World War II Baltra was established as a United States Army Air Force base. From Baltra, we were collected in zodiacs or pangas and headed to our home for the week – The Expedition, a cruise ship organized by Celebrity Cruises. Each day, with island naturalist we headed to a different island to explore the flora, fauna and animals.
Our first active day in the Archipelago was on Daphe Island. The cliff shores of the island are home to sea lions, pelicans, blue footed boobies and tropic bird. We walked the island trail, scouted seals, crabs, iguana’s and were introduced to blue footed boobies. We learned that the blue color of the webbed feet comes from pigments obtained from their diet of fresh fish.