Monday, October 27, 2008
THAT'S MY WORLD 2
After a positive response last week I am transporting you again to the Galapagos Islands. It seems a perfect time of year to escape the cold and grey outside and travel via computer to these wonderful Islands.
This time I am going to take you into the water because there is as much diversity to be seen there as on the land. This was a very major hurdle for me because although I swim adequately my least comfortable element is definitely the water, either on it or in it. However I was not going to take this trip of a lifetime and not take advantage of every moment. So how to snorkel in thousands of feet of water without freaking out? I went to a scuba store and was fortunate enough to talk with a wonderful lady who said that it was absolutely no problem and there was a special flotation device designed especially for snorkeling which didn't push you onto you back like a normal life jacket. So there I was, all kitted out with my geeky fluorescent yellow inflatable device, ready to go!
The sea is the lifeblood of the Galapagos Islands, the diversity of birds and animals would cease to exist without the rich surrounding waters. It was not until 1986 that a presidential decree was issued establishing a Galapagos Marine Resources Reserve. The area was then declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001, including the entire waters surrounding the islands to a distance of 15 nautical miles. And as soon as you start to look into the water it is clear to see why this was so important.
Marine Iguanas Amblyrhynchus cristatus diving to graze on the algae growing on the rocks.
Galapagos Green Turtles Chelonia mydas agassisi floating sedately past.
Sally Lightfoot Crabs Grapsus grapsus scuttling around in the shallows.
Dolphins porpoising along beside our boat.......................
The water is positively brimming with life.
But you really have no idea just how much is there until you get below the surface and thanks to my husband taking a little underwater camera with him, I can show you.
These spectacular Sea Stars were all over the place, this one was well over 12 inches across. There was also a Sea Star that looked exactly like a chocolate chip cookie, I didn't learn until later that it was actually called the Chocolate Chip Sea Star!
One of the highlights for me was swimming with the Sea Turtles. For those of you that have watched Finding Nemo, they were exactly like the turtles in that movie! You could almost hear them as they swam slowly round you saying - 'Hey dude! Far out!'
Another stunning sight were the numerous rays wafting by like large underwater blankets. Unfortunately I am not expert enough to identify the rays above but the one below is a Sting Ray Dasyatididae spp.
Despite the various hair-raising stories about these creatures that have done the rounds since the demise of Steve Irwin, they were very peaceful and just carried on doing their thing as we swam near them.
Speaking of hair-raising! There is nothing more sobering than being in the water when you meet your first shark! Although the White-Tip Reef Shark Triaendon obesus is not known to attack humans, you do suddenly feel rather small and feeble!
One little character that was an absolute delight was the Galapagos Penguin Spheniscus mendiculus. How on earth my husband managed to get a picture of one I can't imagine as these little birds fly through the water like little fat bullets! The only one that I got a really good view of was the one that swam right up to my mask and screeched to a halt about six inches in front of me - I don't know which one of us was more surprised!
But the prize for the clown of the seas has to go to the Galapagos Sea Lion Zalophus wollebaeki. These guys actually tried to play with us in the water although they always seemed rather unimpressed with our inability to stay underwater for minutes at a time!
My husband had great fun with this little guy when he discovered that if he blew bubbles, the Sea Lion would do the same!
And in case you think I have forgotten one vital ingredient of life in the water, yes there was a whole kaleidoscope of fish of every colour, shape and size.
PHEW!!! You can come up for air now and dry yourself off! Thank you for swimming with me. Next week maybe we'll take to the air for a change!
For many great postings from cool locations all over the globe, check out That's My World.
Photo Credits - Dominick V
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