Monday, October 20, 2008

THAT'S MY WORLD TUESDAY


Before you get too excited, no, I don't live on the Galapagos Islands! However I did visit them earlier this year and it was because my husband took so many great photos of the trip that I started my blog in the first place.
The Galapagos are an archipelago off of Ecuador. They are formed by the movement of a tectonic plate over a hotspot in the earths crust. As the plate moves over the hotspot different islands erupt out of the sea to form a chain. Over the millenia the islands slide away from the hotspot and through gradual erosion, eventually disappear back into the sea. At one end of the chain there are bare rocks that carry less life forms and are essentially just used as breeding grounds for ocean going birds.


At the other end of the chain, the 'new' islands show frequent volcanic activity and are just beginning to get populated with various life forms. Here is a fresh lava field that has flowed out into the sea.


One of the first species to inhabit this newly formed land is the lava cactus Brachycereus nesioticus.


In between the two extremes there is a huge diversity of habitat that supports the legendary range of species associated with the Galapagos. Of course the most famous of these is the giant land tortoise. There were originally fifteen sub-species on the islands, there are now eleven remaining and a very active breeding program in place to keep these populations strong.


Another unique creature is the Marine Iguana Amblyrhynchus cristatus, the only iguana in the world that has adapted to swim and feed in the sea. The one in this picture is wearing a lava lizard on his head, as well as being a very stylish fashion accessory, the lava lizard does a great job of eating all the pesky little flies that swarm around the iguanas face, so both animals benefit.


Of course the Galapagos is also known for a rather famous human visitor too. Charles Darwin was quite spellbound by the diversity of unique species he found on this tiny archipelago and it was the inspiration for his masterpiece 'The Origin of Species.' One group of creatures that contributed greatly to the writing of this book were the numerous finches found on the islands. There are thirteen different species, all with very subtle differences and it was these that really set Darwin on his course of study.


One species that Darwin didn't see on his visit is the Flightless Cormorant Phalacrocorax harrisi I can't help feeling that he would have found it easier to make his point on evolution if he had seen it! Of all the species of cormorants that occur around the world, this is the only one that has evolved to flightlessness because of the lack of land predators.


One great conservation success story of the islands is that of the Galapagos Fur Seal Arctocephalus galapagoensis, which is actually a sea lion! This diminutive pinaped was hunted to the brink of extinction because of its luxurious thick fur. It is generally thought that its habit of hunting at night was one thing that saved it because it made it so much harder to catch. Hunting is now banned and the population is flourishing. You can see from this sleeping beauty that they have learned very quickly to ignore the silly humans that pass by!


There is also a short-eared owl that has adapted in a very unique way to island life. Instead of hunting at night, in the air, they have adapted to ambushing their prey underground. The tiny storm petrels roost and nest in their hundreds in cracks and cavities in the lava. The owl squeezes its way into these spaces and waits for the little petrel to return and then grabs it! The owls are very rarely seen but we were lucky enough to see one hiding out.


Where ever you turn on these amazing islands there is incredible, unique wildlife, and so much diversity for such a tiny landmass. Please let me know in your comments if you liked this whistle-stop tour because if you did I can certainly revisit it in a future posting.


For more globe-trotting via your computer screen check out That's My World


Photo Credits - Dominick V

27 comments:

Louise said...

Excellent post! I don't mind at all that this isn't where you live. Your photos are wonderful, and the commentary so interesting!

Your EG Tour Guide said...

Well, if you were there, then it's part of your world! Wonderful photos of a place I doubt I'll ever get to see other in pictures...so thanks for sharing.

ewok1993 said...

this is one place i really am longing to visit. can't wait for more of your entries.

babooshka said...

A place I have always wanted to go.We have cormornats, but Pygmy comrorants fascinate me and how they evolved. Brilliant post for me.

Migs CFL fan said...

Outstanding photos, I especially love your header pic. Thanks for sharing1

Cheers

http://reginainpictures.blogspot.com/

leslie said...

Gosh, for a moment I was a bit stymied because I knew no one lives there! lol But these are amazing shots of life on the islands. Good job. :D

piedmontperspective said...

Excellent photos! Galapagos is on my list of places I'd like to visit some day.

Mary said...

I would love to visit here! So many fascinating animals to see and a world so different.

Rambling Woods said...

You know that I love everything you post Celeste and I am happy that others are getting to see that too...

Lawstude said...

Thanks for the wonderful trip around your place. So very much different from my place but I do wanna share my place also to you. Great job.

Arija said...

I checked out your blog and am amzed that you are not yet on my blogroll, a situation to be immediately rectified.
Your inaugural post is amazing, who needs TV with postings like yours. Adorable little owl and the rest and delightfully informative. A joy to read someone waxing lyrical on a familiar topic.
Thank you, I'm all agog for next week's installment.

Ivar Ivrig said...

Beautiful and interesting. I have seen some TV programme from these island. It is just wonderful :-)

Greyscale Territory said...

What an amazing range of pics of the Galapagos Islands! You show a whole new perspective! Really lovely!

AphotoAday said...

I really enjoyed seeing those photos (and reading your information)... It's a place I'd like to visit, but know I probably never will...

Mar said...

How interesting!! even though you don't live there I love seeing what you saw in real life.
Greetings from sunny Spain!

Old Wom Tigley said...

What a stunning post this is.. theres just so much that grabs my interest... I look forward to reading more.

Inkivääri said...

Really interesting and special post - thank you:)

Rural Writer said...

Oh lucky you! What a great place to get to visit! Thanks for sharing your pictures and great narrative.

Luiz Ramos said...

Galapagos the beautiful World indeed.

bobbie said...

What a wonderful post! Thank you.

Your pictures are wonderful.
I have never heard of lava cactus before.

Maria said...

How wise of you to tell us that you don't live on the Galapagos, because I would have asked you right away if I could come and visit you! The photos are wonderful! Really great!

Celeste said...

Louise - Thanks! Nothing better than a little escapism when it is grey and rainy outside ;)

Your eg tour guide - I am glad you liked the post, come back next time for the second installment!

Ewok 1993 - It was a lifetime dream come true for me to finally get there.

Babooshka - Thanks for dropping by. The flightless cormorants were fascinating, I spent a long time watching them.

Celeste said...

Migs cfi fan - Thanks, the old lion in the header photo was a neighbour of mine when I lived in Zambia.

Leslie - Actually people dp live out there and the population is growing very fast, which is causing lots of problems as you can imagine. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Piedmontperspective - I suspect it is on a lot of peoples list! It certainly has been on mine for as long as I can remember :)

Mary - It is indeed a fascinating place and the variety of species is truly amazing.

Celeste said...

Rambling Woods - You are so kind Michelle. I think you are my number one follower :)

Lawstude - How I wish it really was my place! But I feel incredibly lucky to have at least spent some time there.

Arija - Thank you so much for your encouraging words and also for adding me to your blogroll :) It is hard to choose what to post about from these amazing islands because there is so much.

Ivar Ivrig - There was a really good TV series on about a month before I went there, that just made me even more excited to go :)

Celeste said...

Greyscale Territory - Thanks! Hopefully you can tell from my writing just how captivated I was by this amazing place.

Aphotoaday - Well if you don't get to visit then I am really happy to be able to share my pictures with you.

Mar - Spain is one country I really want to visit. I am a big fan of Fernando Alonso so it seems important to visit his home country :)

Old wom tigley - Thanks! There is so much that it is really hard to choose what to post!

Celeste said...

Inkivaari - Thanks for dropping by, glad you enjoyed the post.

Rural writer - I do feel incredibly lucky to have seen such a special place.

Luiz ramos - It is a very beautiful place indeed.

Bobbie - Thank you :) I had never heard of a lava cactus until I went there either!

Maria - I wouldn't blame you! I wanted to check with the organisers of 'My World' to see if it was acceptable to post about somewhere that I had only visited and they said definitely! Sorry I can't invite you for a visit :)

fishing guy said...

I'm all caught up on your trip to date and love everything I've seen. That owl is precious.