The blue-footed booby is one of the more well-known species of birds in the Galapagos Islands. This booby is looking skyward and has apparently spotted a female, so he begins to strut and dance.
The Blue-footed Booby of the Galapagos Islands
The above photo was one of my big disappointments of the Galapagos trip. After waiting for many minutes for this booby to dance, I was zoomed in too close. The result was a photo with cut off wings and beak. I later zoomed back a bit and he again strutted, but he had turned around and my photo was of his back side. Such is the life of a travel photographer who tries to be a nature photographer for a couple weeks.
The above booby is incubating some eggs and apparently does not wish to leave the nest. So ALL business is taken care of right there. However, it does make for a interesting design.
The ten avid photographers of our group walked along the well-defined path looking for scenes of the various birds on this island. It seemed odd that some eggs had not hatched and other boobies had quite large chicks. Apparently this is because they practice asynchronous hatching, meaning not all the eggs hatch at once.
The Blue-footed Booby Mating Dance
Male boobies can be seen standing on stumps and rocks looking skyward. When a female is spotted flying overhead, they will start their strutting dance.
When the boobies fish, they look like modern-day fighter jets. These birds are likely diving for sardines, which we are told are declining in number, just as is the blue-footed booby.
Frigatebirds Live Here Too
The frigatebirds live in the same area as the booby. We were fortunate to see this frigatebird do his mating dance. Once the large red pouch is inflated, they shake it back and fourth wildly. A movie would have captured this better, but I took only photographs.
This frigatebird hitched a ride on our boat for a while. You can see how the red pouch looks when deflated and not being used to attract a mate.
The Land Iguana Lives Among the Birds
The land iguana apparently is an herbivore and leaves all the bird eggs alone, eating only cactus instead.
Personally, I do not trust him with all those bird eggs laying around. He is trying to look much too innocent to me.
Goodbye Galapagos Islands
Tourists are brought to scenic Bartholomew Island and Pinnacle Rock for snorkeling, swimming on the sandy crescent shaped beach and a hike to the top for a grand vista. This island seemed to be oddly void of most living creatures. This was one of our final stops. Throughout this tour we were always led by a knowledgeable Ecuadorian guide, as required by law. We could not wander about freely, which is totally appropriate when trying to control close to 200,000 tourists per year.
Too Many People, Too Few Resources
Shortly after Ecuador gained independence from Spain, it claimed the Galapagos Islands. However, the government could not convince any of its citizens to live on these remote islands. In order to have a legitimate claim to the islands, they exiled prisoners here. By the 1950’s there were small towns and a tourist boom began in the 70’s. Suddenly, the Galapagos was the place Ecuadorians wanted to be. The poor Ecuadorians flocked to the islands to make a better living from tourism.
Too much of a good thing led to such a large migration from the mainland that free migration was halted in the 90’s and the government began moving Ecuadorians back to the mainland. So the government of Ecuador is taking the steps deemed necessary to preserve the islands.
Rather than launch into stories of the islands’ lack of sewage treatment or the government’s efforts to eradicate the goats and rats brought by the early settlers, I’ll let you do your own research if you are so inclined. However, I am hopeful the $100 cash entrance fee to the islands will be put to good use funding the necessary improvements to sustain these unique islands for years in the future. The Galapagos Islands are indeed a true wonder and great experience for the many who get to visit them.