My photographs from the Galapagos Archipelago, December 2011. Click on a circle for a full image. Please do not use the images without my permission (I’m generally happy to give it if you ask beforehand!).
Marine iguanas expel the excess of salt ingested during foraging in the sea by sneezing it out once they are back on land.
The mating dance of waved albatrosses – a critically endangered species.
Nazca boobies lay two eggs, however, even if both hatch, only one chick survives. The stronger of the chicks pushes its sibling out of the nesting area, where it dies of cold or starvation. This bullying behaviour is attributed to high testosterone levels in the chicks.
Arguably the most iconic animals of the archipelago, and the reason for its name: “Galapago” is an old Spanish word meaning tortoise.
During the breeding season, male frigatebirds inflate their large, red gular pouches to attract mates. Females lay one egg; the chick is white and only changes its plumage too black when it reaches adulthood.
The dominant bull continually patrols his territory by swimming from border to border and often barking at potential threats. Exhausting!
Daphne Minor – one of the sites of the famous evolutionary biology research project conducted by Peter and Rosemary Grant
The shapes of the carapaces (the top part of a tortoise’s shell) differ between islands, with domed carapaces prevalent on humid islands, and saddleback on arid ones.
In “The Voyage of the Beagle”, Charles Darwin described the Galapagos land iguana as “ugly animals, of a yellowish orange beneath, and of a brownish-red colour above: from their low facial angle they have a singularly stupid appearance.” I think he was a bit unfair.
Red-footed boobies differ from the other two booby species, as they nest in trees. Female red-footed booby builds a nest with materials supplied by the male.
A heron resting at Genovesa Island.
It is the only fully nocturnal gull and seabird in the world.
Even though the males and the females look very similar, they can be differentiated by their sounds – females honk, and males whistle.
The most renowned giant tortoise was Lonesome George – a Pinta Island tortoise – who was the only individual left from his species.
The name “booby” comes from the Spanish “bobo”, which means stupid or foolish – acquired by the birds due to their clumsiness on land. Despite not being very good walkers, they are very skilled divers and fliers. The feet of the blue footed boobies change their intensity with diet – a healthy, well-fed animal has bright blue feet and is more likely to attract a mate.
Males, such as this one, who do not have territories live in bachelor colonies at less favourable locations; they eventually challenge the dominant bulls to a territory and females.
A young gull hidden between cacti – Genovesa Island.
Galapagos sea lions live in harem colonies, with a dominant male guarding a group of up to 25 females and young.
Sea lions can be differentiated from seals quite easily. Sea lions are generally more slender than seals, have a longer muzzle and external ears; they are also able to bring their hind flippers underneath their bodies, which enables them to walk on all fours while on land.
The closest relatives of these playful mammals are the Californian sea lions.
Frigeatebirds are called the pirates of the avian world – they obtain some of their food by attacking other birds in mid-air and harassing them into releasing their prey. However, they also hunt by catching fish or baby turtles from water surface, as well as young of other bird species from land.
A curious mockingbird from Espanola inspecting a Galapagos sea lion.
Marine iguanas vary in sizes and colours between the islands of the archipelago, with the smallest ones inhabiting the warmest, easternmost islands, and the largest – the islands on the West, the waters of which are cooled by the Humboldt Current.
Iguanas from the island of Espanola are known as Christmas iguanas because of their red and green colouration.
In the past, tortoises were much desired by sailors and whalers, since they stayed alive for a long time onboard a ship, and provided plenty of food for the crew. Currently they face threats from invasive species, with rats eating eggs and baby tortoises, and goats competing with the adult reptiles for food.
The only flightless species of cormorant in the world. These birds use their strong feet to paddle through water.
A female basking in the sun.
Baby sea lion basking at sunset.
Galapagos hawks are polyandrous – the females mate with a number of males in the breeding season.
Marine iguanas feed underwater on algae and are able to dive to depths over 10 m in the ocean.
The only penguin species to be found north of the equator.
This crab is thought to be named after a red-haired dancer from the Caribbean.
Urban photography – Sydney and Auckland.
My photographs from the Galapagos have been shown at exhibitions at
Galeria Zielona and Biblioteka Manhattan