Trip Start Jan 29, 2010
Trip End Sep 13, 2010

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Where I stayed
Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Thursday, July 15, 2010

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend nearly a month on the Galapagos Islands, learning, exploring and doing my bit to help out with some conservation work. In amongst the volunteering we had plenty of time for fun stuff. We went on several boat and snorkelling trips where we had the opportunity to see some of the locals - sea lions, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigate birds, sally lightfoot crabs, sea turtles, marine iguanas and penguins all brought a gasp of astonishment when I saw them for the first time. Seeing a blue-footed boobie dive down at terrific speed into the water was a sight; snorkelling over a narrow inlet full of white-tip sharks made my heart jump into my mouth; swimming with the sea lions is one of the most exhilarating things I have done and is something I will never forget.

The animal spotting was second to none - seeing all these animals that are not found anywhere else in the world in their natural environment was fascinating. They are curious things, not seemingly bothered by humans at all. The birds approach you and sit next to you, the marine iguanas will gaze at you and maybe spurt some seawater out at you, the sea lions will stare at you with their puppy dog eyes and frolick and play with you in the water like you are some new sea creature with big glass eyes and massive flipper feet. On San Cristobal there were sea lions everywhere, hanging out in the town, lazing in the sun on the beaches and surfing the waves with the young Galapaguerian surfers. There is massive waves off all of the islands - the Galapagos would be a great surf spot, dad and boys take note!

When diving it seemed like all the animals in the Galapagos were on steriods - they were bigger than any I had seen anywhere else in the world and they came in droves - there were massive schools of fish and even barracudas, countless turtles, sharks and rays - hundreds of them feeding on the nutrient-rich waters! The sea lions were just as fun to dive with as they were to snorkel with. On a normal dive you would be excited if you saw just one of these animals, but diving in the Galapagos our divemaster was continuously getting our attention for yet another sea creature that was gracing us with its prescence. There was one school of an endemic fish, so big that they formed a wall and you could swim into the dark abyss that was the fish and they would part around you, forming a little hole for you to swim through. Incredible! There was a guy on my dive trip who had done something like 300 odd dives and had never seen anything like it before. And to finish off the dive we saw dolphins jumping in the water around our boat and the next day a killer whale feeding in the area we were just diving in - lucky for us we had just gotten into the boat!

I had a fun time snapping away at the animals - check out some of the pics!
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