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Published: August 12th 2007
Learning from the Best...
Galapagos Islands... How do you descibe them? Breath-taking, beautiful, amazing or special?All of them and then all the others you can think of. Truth is, there is not any just way of properly describing how the Galapagos are without actually being there in person. I will tell you a little bit about them and then our pictures will do an even better job, but truthfully the only way to know it fully is to go there yourself! So if you like what you see, get planning and better start saving!
We had an awesome time. Two weeks was spent futively trying not to get burned in the strong equatorial sun while we took in the sights of more than 8 different islands. When we first got there we tried to find a cheap boat cruise around the islands but were dissapointed to learn that there was no such thing as cheap and secondly, any boats that were reasonable were full for the next while. Word of advice, book beforehand - its a little more expensive but it gives you the upperhand of getting exactly what you want. Turns out we did end of getting what we wanted out of our
boat cruise but we had to wait and be patient for the right chance to open up.
We flew into the main island of Santa Cruz and spent a day organizing and planning our time here. Ben went surfing and regardless of applying sun-tan lotion twice in 4 hours, managed to burn all the skin off his back before lunch. There is a gorgeous fine-sand beach here with a decent surf break - while the waves were not all that great, it was definately an experience to surf with manta rays, sharks, sea lions and marine iguanas all swimming by!
Second place we went to was the island of Isabella, the largest of the archipelego. Here we saw penguins, blue footed boobies, sea lions and more. We went up into the highlands to see the most recent volcanic activity of the islands, an eruption in 2005 created a fresh lava flow. Also here is the world´s second largest volcanic crater (I can hear you all go ¨ooooh¨).
Our next stop was to the first inhabited island of San Cristabal, home to world class surf breaks and some very pesky sea lions. A head of over 100 has
Hot Tortoise Action
These two are well over 100 years old! An inspiration to us all...
taken over the beach right in front of town and acts like they own the place. The town has a sea lion shepard hired to walk around periodly and ´herd´them back to the beach. Ben was assured he could rent a surf board on this island but when we got here the two places that rent were unexplainably closed for our entire stay here (maybe in protest to save Ben´s life who knows?) Regardless we watched some huge surf and as much talk as he did about wanting to be out there, Nastassia really knows that is was for the better...
From there we went back to the main Island of Santa Cruz and hoped on our sweet yacht for a 4 day tour around some other smaller islands. Our highlight was our guide Cesear, who at 69 was still as spy and nimble as the rest of the guest (who weren´t over 28), right down to jumping off the boat to go snorkelling with us. The cruise was amazing. Some of the wildlife we saw: BIRDS - blue footed boobies, masked boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, waved albatross, galapagos hawks, magnificent figates, pink flamingos, great blue herons LAND - land
iguanas, lava lizards, giant tortoises WATER - marine iguanas, thousands of fish, sally light-foot crabs, white-tipped reef sharks, sting rays, manta rays, sea lions, sea turtles.
On our last day here we went scuba diving. It was great, seeing schools of barracuda, a group of more than twenty rays, tons of fish, more reef sharks and then....we saw HIM. Thats right we saw a hammerhead shark! He was a big bugger over 3 meters long! Even our guide mentioned that that was one of the biggest he´s ever seen!
What makes seeing all these animals so special is the simple fact that these are wild animals that have NO FEAR of humans in their own natural environment. They trust us and let us get up close and personal! It was an amazing experience. An the photos will show you the rest (and we only have a 3x zoom!)
THE WHALE STORY
In response to our title. We had a very unique, very special and very sad incident happen while we were staying on Isabella Island the first night. After dinner the hotel owner told us that some whales were beached near-by. Armed
Beached Pilot Whale
It has a smile on its face but it was really quiet sad...
with our headlamps, we went down to investigate. What we found was a pod of as least 12 pilot whales that had beached themselves. For the next five hours, us along with others pushed, pulled and grunted to drag these whales, which were between 10 and 30 feet long back into deep enough water to get them floating again. Some of the whales took more than 50 people to get them deep enough to float and swim again. Once we got all of them off and out to the ocean we thought we had saved them...until we kept finding more and more down the beach. It turned out that we were just pushing them out so they could turn around and swim right back in to the beach of reach of our lights. But to no avail, as much as we kept trying to give them a chance, they just kept coming right back to shore. Toward the end of our efforts, Ben was out walking with a big one of about thirty feet to keep him straight as he started to swim. When he was pointed in the right direction he let go and watched the whale swim out
Dead Pilot Whale
This guy was dead before anyone got to the beach, he managed to flip himself completely over and drown.
past the break and dissapear. When the whale went under the water he actually spun around and swam right back to shore directly at Ben. He rammed into Ben´s shin with his head, all ten tons of him and knocked Ben off his feet, split his shin open and gave him a nasty bruise. Ben has since forgiven the poor whale, as he was obvisouly not in his right mind at the time and was just grateful that is was not a ten ton frieght truck that hit him, as it would have snapped his bone like a toothpick.
They don´t know why they beach themselves like this, there are many speculations and possibilities, but know one is certain. At the end of it all, we helped by keeping 5 off the beach that went on to survive, but 7 unfortunatly did not make it. It was sad watching with helplessness of their desire to remain on that beach, but we know we made an effort that helped. It was also pretty amazing to be that up-close and personal with whales like that. Its one of those once in a lifetime chances that you know how special you were
Save the Whales!
What a gongshow - half the people were drunk (it was Saturday night) and the other half couldn´t speak spanish! Our efforts did work eventually, to the avail that the whales just wanted to come right back...
to have been part of. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17705288/ has the news story.
Ciao, Nastassia y Ben
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