Least Entertaining Wildlife
Sea lions. When they weren’t in the mood they simply laid around lethargic and practically motionless, occasionally grunting but mostly just quietly stinking up the joint. Remind you of any grouchy relatives at Thanksgiving, or is that just me and Tom Arnold?
The Nazca booby. Watching them collect puny rocks and scrawny twigs to ineffectually attempt to turn their rather mediocre nests into something far more exciting and attractive to the opposite sex was surprisingly reminiscent of bumbling Antarctic penguins, or the real estate agent two doors down who just added an outdoor fireplace next to his cedar hot tub and collection of communal bathing suits.
Most Daring Feat
Clearly it was the courageous and dashing fellow who jumped (pun alert) at the chance to jump from the top of the boat, becoming just the third person to do so that particular day. Five metres high if it was an inch, he pulled it off with stunning precision, falling straight as an arrow thanks to his overwhelming fear and furiously clenched buttocks. If only he hadn’t reflexively put his hands out flat to the sides in some ill-conceived attempt to slow his descent it would have been a perfect splash-free entry, and it wouldn’t have been half an hour before he could feel his palms.
Most Polarizing Site
Strangest Activity Involving Government Infrastructure
The Post Office Bay postcard exchange. Apparently, back in the 19th Century when there was no actual postal system in the area people who had letters to send would leave them in this fairly random box on this equally random beach. Then when people stopped by on their way abroad they would take and deliver any letters intended for someplace they were heading, or might be passing, as well as any of those featuring three fit women in thong bikinis, you know, to help pass time on the journey.
Probably the one at Post Office Bay. Although the one on Santa Cruz was kind of dark, too.
Most Darwinian Moment
On Playa Las Bachas, our very first landing, at our very first salt water lagoon, where we spotted our very first baby sea turtle, one who had apparently taken a wrong turn coming out of the nesting crater and was probably still thrilled at how easy it had all worked out, and how this one metre deep calmly tepid pool seemed far less wild and scary than he had expected from the big dangerous ocean. As we all oohed and aahed, snapping photos in the dim hope it would show up as something other than a dark spot resembling either a rock or sunken frog carcass, Rubén solemnly explained that unfortunately it wasn’t likely to last very long, being far too exposed and visible to predators in the clear shallows. We were still muttering noncommittally, certain that Rubén was only being morbid and that this particular adorable little turtle could quite easily be the one that bucks the odds, like in a Pixar film, probably with the help of a wise-cracking sidekick of some sort, a sandpiper, maybe, or a jittery crab, when not thirty seconds later an evil frigate bird swooped down and, to our collective horror, plucked it from the drink like the terrible cherry in a delightful cosmopolitan, soaring off into the distance where we could then just make out a tiny dot escape the powerful beak and tumble off into the bushes, leaving us to engage in a lively debate over whether he had somehow pulled off a daring and complex escape, or whether the bird had already separated the best parts out and simply spit the shell out like it had been enjoying a mouthful of sunflower seeds.
Best Underwater Photo
After the cruise was over we had hoped to do some scuba diving in the Galapagos since rumour has it they have some of the best dive sites in the world. Alas, an inconvenient head cold and imminent flight convinced us to err on the side of caution (caution being even more snorkelling instead, maybe only the minimum of concessions).
But it did mean we got spend 15 minutes watching a sea lion chasing its own tail for Laynni’s amusement off Punta Carola on San Cristóbal. Or maybe it was miming a small case letter “o”. Or a zero. Definitely not a cheerio, though, way too symmetrical.A close second has me next to a huge sea turtle. It might have edged into first if we had been able to make out the Kids in the Hall logo on my old yellow t-shirt.
Worst Underwater Photo
Coolest Sexual Ploy
Male frigate birds have a stretchy strip of a red skin on their throat that can be blown up like a huge red balloon, or a sexy inflamed scrotum, that is then proudly presented for all to see, apparently as proof of their virility and willingness to do their part in the sack.
Just what the doctor order when it comes to attracting eligible females. The inflamed sack was also sometimes accompanied by pathetic keening noise, vaguely reminiscent of “I’m sooo hooorrrny. Soooo hooorrrny. Ack.”
Diego, of the Puerto Ayora breeding centre, apparently. Even though he looked like any ordinary tortoise to me – thick scaly legs, dirty shell, beady eyes, no lips to speak of – the fact remains that I am still fairly new to the intricacies of reptilian sexuality, and have never, to this point, had the pleasure of being mounted by a long-necked saddleback tortoise for the dual purposes of saving an endangered species and being gleefully “tortoised”, so I am really in no position to judge. But they say he holds all the records, and in the breeding game, much like French kissing, it’s the final score that counts.A close second was the slow moving Casanova in Rancho Manzanillo mostly concealed under some shrubs with his handsome lady, ever…so…slowly…giving…her…the…business. Apparently tortoises do everything slowly. Either that, or he was just showing off some of his new tantric moves.
Well, that about wraps it up. Galápagos Islands – pretty cool! I think that makes a better slogan than their current ones “Galápagos Islands – Surrounded by Water!” and “Galápagos Islands – Take Videos of Animals Having Sex!”