Back from the islands

January 18, 2010 • 9:34 am

A huge thank-you to Matthew and Greg for taking over the website in my absence. I’ve just returned from the Galápagos, and haven’t yet fully absorbed the experience, which exceeded all expectations.  I’ll be posting about it over the next week or so, but in the meantime here are a few iconic animals that I snapped (more on these species later).  Note: I do not have a zoom lens.

25 thoughts on “Back from the islands

  1. @John Danley: Hitchens has a decent article at Slate. I’d give the full link but am typing from my Blackberry. Find a link at Dawkins’ site.

  2. Welcome back Jerry. I look forward to seeing more pictures.

    It’s amazing you were able to get such closeup pictures of these animals without a zoom lense. Are they just used to people now?

  3. I only recognize the blue-footed booby and the giant turtle (is there a photo of the other giant turtle on those islands). Is there anything special about the seal-like thing? It’s been years since I’ve seen a seal pup. The lizard is not like any lizard I’ve ever seen.

      1. It’s not a manatee. It’s either a sea lion or a fur seal; both occur in the Galapagos (endemic subspecies and species, respectively), both can be found at tourist sites, and are quite similar in appearance. Fur seals are smaller, furrier, and their ears stick out more, but I’m not expert enough to make a call on this youngster. Jerry probably knows which it is.

      2. This is a sea lion. Its taxonomic status is unclear:at present it seems to be a subspecies of the California sea lion, but who knows about their reproductive compatibility? Greg’s right about the phenotype of the fur seal. Fur seals are much rarer in the Galapagos. The lizard is the famous marine iguana. Posts to come.

      3. Just joking in reference to “Mary’s Monday Metazoan” at Pharyngula, I should have been clearer, sorry.

        I’m also sorry to admit to thinking it was a seal. So I’m glad to know it is a sea lion. Didn’t know they could be that cute.

  4. Are they just used to people now?

    More like they’ve never “learned” to be scared of people.

    The Galapagos being the only substantial environment of which I know that was essentially untouched by humans prior to European explorers finding it. Animals were quite tolerant of humans from the beginning.

    Human predation has occurred there, of course, with some species going extinct. But it was never prolonged enough for animals to develop (probably genetically evolve to some degree) a fear of humans.

    Glen Davidson

    1. Don’t forget, though, the notable absence of predators on the Galapagos, an absence not seen on the mainland. It’s not at all clear that the ancestors of the Galapagos fauna were so tame!

      1. Oh yes, that’s a very good point, since anything large might be frightening to animals under predatory pressures.

        A slight correction. I wrote:

        The Galapagos being the only substantial environment of which I know that was essentially untouched by humans prior to European explorers finding it.

        Aside from environments like Antarctica, of course. It’s not a prime example of environmental and evolutionary developments, though. But I wouldn’t want to pretend that it’s not an interesting and educational sort of environment in its own right.

        Penguins on Antarctica were and are also not frightened by humans, again probably due to humans and other land predators (there are plenty of sea predators on Antarctic penguins) having not existed there until recently.

        Glen Davidson

  5. Fearless wildlife? Big deal. There’s a huge football shaped nest of hornets in my backyard. They’re fearless too, and you don’t need a zoom lens as I’m sure they’ll swarm right on your camera.

    1. Me too! I was very happy that it made top billing.

      As they strut around – “I say there old chap, have you seen my magnificent lower appendages?”

  6. What is the camera make and model, I am looking for one to replace my very slightly (haha) out of date Nikon 2500?

    I trust that the great quality of the pictures is due to the camera and not another of your hidden talents. Er, well, no, those are just really good pictures.

    1. Just in case I messed the comment above up as well. The skill of the photographer is apparent to me. Seriously good pictures.

  7. The abundant guano is cool too – I bet that area stank!

    There’s a place on the southern tip of the coast of Washington state where a lot of cormorants hang out – the smell of it is…remarkable.

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