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Published: October 6th 2007
On the moment the plane touched down on the strange new terrain with funky-looking cactuses everywhere, one British voice blurted out: “By golly! We’ve landed on the moon!” - and we knew this was not going to be no ordinary place.
According to Darwin (who also developed his theory of evolution on the islands), because the islands were never connected with the mainland, any plants or animals that somehow made it onto the islands were allowed to evolve differently to their counterparts on the continent. Consequently many of the plants and animals on the islands are completely unique and are found nowhere else in the world. Furthermore, since man only inhabited the islands recently, the animals, as yet, have very little instinctive fear of man.
200 year old giant tortoises roam the countryside remembering the days of Darwin and those even before, friendly iguanas in abundant numbers and sometimes up to a metre in length share the beach-rocks with you and let you close enough to study their rosy tongues, whilst one of the many finches will sit on your finger and eat out of your hand.
But all this still doesn’t come close to what you can
see by getting into the Galapagos waters with a tank full of air on your back.
On sinking down into the chilly waters of Floreana, one of the further islands, a naughty, forthcoming seal introduced himself to us, followed by the rest of his curious colony. Playfully twisting and zipping between us, they led us towards a cave of 10 or more white-tip sharks, with a 3 metre stingray calmly parked by the entrance. Even at arm’s length away, these strange sharks paid little attention to us and couldn’t be bothered to move away. That happened only after the naughty seal entered their den. We thought he was dead-meat for sure when he started nipping and biting at some of the sharks’ fins, but clearly he just wanted to show-off to us who’s boss around here, as the sharks, unable to shake off this pestering seal, submissively had to make their way elsewhere.
* All underwater photos were taken by Hugo of Academy Bay Tours on dives with us with a Canon IXUS 850 IS, which coincidently is the same camera we have.
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