Saturday, July 02, 2011

Galapagos Anyone?

May and June, 2011The Galapagos Islands...what a pleasure and privilege to be able to visit and photograph this unique place again. The absolute wildness of the place lends itself to image making. Shown here is the small islet known as Leon Dormido (sleeping lion) off the coast of San Cristobal Island.
And of course what better ship to travel on than the National Geographic Endeavour?
I always love to see the marine iguanas, especially this "Christmas" iguana (so called because of the red and green breeding coloration) on Espanola Island basking on the rocks . near heavy surf.
Galapagos sea lions are a delight to snorkel with and of course always want to let you know just who is boss by giving a little bubble blow at the camera!
A barn owl sleeps away the daylight hours high on Santa Cruz Island.
This great frigatebird is trying to steal nesting material in mid-flight from a red-footed booby.The booby managed to hang on and got to keep the material for its own nest here on Genovesa Island.
A good look at those red feet coming right at the camera...
Their agility in the water is due in such a large part to the very flexible neck as this Galapagos sea lion demonstrates.
Try as he might it just doesn't seem that she is all that interested...whistle a little louder!
Here a male great frigatebird is fully inflated to show off his fitness to passing females. Trouble is he is showing off to the wrong species...that's a red-footed booby flying by!
A male great frigatebird takes a break from the rigors of keeping that pouch inflated!
An eagle ray allows me to snorkel beneath it and shoot upward, showing the slot in Leon Dormido above it in the water.
What a strange looking ray these eagle rays are. With a pronounced snout, human-like eyes, and a very long tail they are certainly easy to identify..
A male Galapagos fur seal shows off his particularly large eyes (used at night to find prey in deep water).
A marine iguana showing off its unique swimming style: the tail swoosh!
A young Galapagos sea lion playing hide-and-seek on the dock at Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island.

I will be returning to the Galapagos next May (2012) and would love to share this magic place with you. If you are interested please go to

Pink, It's My Favorite Color

June, 2011Greater flamingos can be found in brackish lagoons here in the Galapagos Islands, feeding on their favorite meal...artesmia. This shrimp-like creature gives the flamingos their brilliant pink coloration.
I am always looking for calm water to catch the perfect reflection in. Here a tiny drop of water off the flamingos bill adds to the mirror image.
So graceful in the lagoons, but yet so awkward looking as they fly!
Imagine spending the better part of your life with your head upside down swinging your neck side to side in search of food. Wait a minute...
Greater flamingos add a perfect shade of pink to the blue water lagoons here on Rabida Island. To see more of my images please visit my website at

Friday, July 01, 2011

Flying with Penguins in the Galapagos

June, 2011Although they sometimes seem almost comical on land as they waddle from the sea and onto the lava shore, it is here in the water that the true grace of a Galapagos penguin becomes apparent.
With a speed and agility that surprises me, this small group of Galapagos penguins is trying to capture small baitfish. Time and again the penguins would try to separate out an individual fish from the school. The sea lions would join the chase, not for a meal, but just for the fun of it!
Of course the fish are well versed in the game, and no fish wants to be anywhere near the beak of a hungry penguin. Beautiful patterns are created by the fleeing fish as the penguins struggle to isolate one of them.
Stopping for a brief moment to check out its own reflection in the dome port of my camera, this penguin shows us how well adapted its eyes are for the task of underwater vision.
So many fish and so little time!
Here a juvenile Galapagos penguin stretches and preens on lava. These penguins are the only species in the world that venture into the northern hemisphere.
Galapagos penguins are neither drawn to or repelled by our presence in the water with them. I don't believe they see us as either a threat or competition for food...probably just ungainly animals in the water!
Population fluxes are sometimes extreme for Galapagos penguins as they rely so heavily on constant food sources near the Galapagos Islands. A severe El Nino event can have drastic results for the entire population, as witnessed by the massive reduction in numbers in the 1997-1998 loss of perhaps as much as 40% of the total number of these penguins in the Galapagos due to an El Nino event.