Penguins at the Equator
Boobies out the Wazoo
These modern pterodactyls make the front page in Bermuda when they get blown off course and circle the island for a few days. If you want to see them on a regular basis: fill a ship’s galley with lunch scraps, dump overboard, repeat daily.
Darwin’s first clues to natural selection, several bird species can be only found in the Galapagos:
We spotted this Galapagos Mockingbird on Santa Cruz Island during our first hike.
The Galapagos Hawk is the only hawk found in the archipelago (Rabida Island).
The Flightless Cormorant has given up its wings in exchange for superior underwater performance, much like the penguin (Fernandina Island).
And yes, there are penguins at the Equator. Washed north from Antarctica long ago and somehow able to shed their insulating fat along the way they now scramble across the rocky shore, dodging crabs and iguanas in wildlife combinations none of us predicted when we booked this trip.
We snorkeled with penguins, for crying out loud. I saw one rocket 30 feet down to nab a fish. Unbelievable how quick that guy was.
Everybody loves a penguin, but the real star in the Galapagos is the blue-footed booby.
Don’t underestimate this gull: behind the perpetually-startled gaze lurks a remorseless fish-eating machine, always ready to execute a perfect figure 7 from above and auger in on top of some unsuspecting mackerel. We watched a flock of boobies pursue a school of something shiny in a regenerating curtain of death along the coast of Fernandina island. Goofy and merciless.
Less common are the masked boobies, though one or two made an appearance along the way. We never did spot the elusive red-footed booby which inhabits the far northern islands of the archipelago and tends to spend most of its time out at sea anyway.