I took this photo in May 2006 on a cruise of the Galapagos Islands — from the summit of Bartolome Island looking toward Santiago (James) Island. Most of what you see in the background is Santiago. The sailing ship at anchor is not the Beagle, of course. It is a cruise schooner — looking very much as the Beagle probably did in September-October 1835 when Capt. FitzRoy and his crew, including Charles Darwin, did their topographic, geological and biological survey of these islands. This is also the vantage point from which the ship’s doctor (a Darwin-like character) in the 2003 film “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World” discovered the French frigate Acheron flying a massive Tricolor flag.
Notice the spire of rock at the far end of the crescent beach in the foreground. We snorkeled in this bay, out around and beyond the spire of rock, which plunges abruptly into the deep. There is no coral here; the water is too cold. But the fish are as colorful and species-rich as you would find on most coral reefs. Best of all was being in the water with Green Sea Turtles and both the Galapagos Penguins and the Galapagos Sea Lions. Imagine propelling yourself along under the ocean surface and noticing something big in your peripheral vision. Thinking it is another snorkeler getting too close, you turn to look into the bewhiskered snout of a curious sea lion! Satisfied, it darts ahead like a torpedo with another right alongside.
I also got the worst sunburn of my life on the back of my legs while snorkeling here. I was taking anti-malarial medication for a trip to Africa the next week, and that makes a person unusually susceptible to sunburn. Plus I forgot to put sunscreen there or wear a full-body wetsuit. Bad move! But the memory of those sea lions alongside took some of the sting out of the subsequent sunburn.
The photo and this text is subject to Copyright 2008 by Chris Dunford. The photo may not be not be copied or used in any way without written permission from Chris Dunford. This text may be quoted in part or in full only with attribution to Chris Dunford (www.darwinwatch.wordpress.com)