Our afternoon visit on Santa Cruz was to the Charles Darwin Research centre. I seemed to miss a lot of the features of the station which are mentioned in the guidebooks, an obvious hazard of being so busy looking for photos that I'm not listening properly to the guide.
We did a tour of the tortoise breeding pens. Baby tortoises are vulnerable to attacks from introduced predators, so they are kept here until they can be released at about five years old. As an example of the value of this, in the 1960s, only 13 surviving adults of the Española race were taken into captivity, and since then over 1000 young tortoises have been released back to the island.
I took quite a lot of photos of the different races or tortoise, which all have distinctive shells, varying from 'domed' to 'saddle-backed', but the subtleties are a bit beyond me - and I noticed that even in the breeding centre, each tortoise is marked to indicate not only its personal identity, but which subspecies it belongs to.
Around the Centre, some Galápagos Mockingbirds, Nesomimus parvulus parvulus, were easy to see, usually perched high on cactus plants.
After our visit to the Research Station, we strolled down to Puerto Ayora.
We passed some areas of mangroves at the edge of the water, where various creatures could be seen, including groups of the endemic subspecies of Marine Iguanas, Amblyrhynchus cristatus hassi. I'd been having problems photographing Marine Iguanas because of the problem of separating them from their lava backgrounds, so I lay down on my stomach to take a portrait of one against the water.
On a slippery, mossy slipway not far from the Centre, we found this Lava Gull, Larus fuliginosus, loafing and preening, allowing close approach and photography.
This attractive pier is at the municipal dock of Puerto Ayora harbour. You can keep watching for wildlife as you wait for your boat: there are plenty of fish to see in the water below, birds above and Marine Iguanas can climb the wall and families or groups can be warming themselves right on the pier.
You've just gotta have a sunset shot.
Post Office Bay
P. Baquerizo M'o
> Puerto Ayora
Giant Prickly Pear
Life on Board '04
Farewell dinner '04
Farewell dinner '05
Seen en route