I’m sitting in a coffee shop in La Paz Bolivia. Tomorrow we start the marathon of flights to Fiji at 4 AM, so we head to the airport tonight. La Paz – Bogota. Bogota – Houston. Houston – Los Angeles. 5 hours in Los Angeles then 12 hours overnight to Fiji. I can tell you envy this amazing flight itinerary… But Fiji will be really nice. And we meet our Grandma in LA and she will stay in Fiji with us for a week. We will be relaxed there so stay tuned for lots of updates! In this entry I’ll talk about two animals in the Galapagos: sea lions and marine iguanas.
These animals originally came from California, but they were isolated for so long that they evolved into a new species. The Galapagos sea lions are still very similar to their Californian cousins, they even still have the same Latin name. What’s the difference between a sea lion and a seal? Our guide Victor explained that sea lions have external ears, and seals don’t.
I think that sea lions are like the puppies of the ocean. The story of their life: play in the waves for a while, eat some fish (there are more fish than they could ever eat), then sleep on the beach! Sounds good to me. The babies especially are very curious. When I tried to get a picture with one on the beach, respecting the 2 meter rule, the little guy came up to me and tried to touch me! Victor told me not to let him, because mothers and babies only recognize each other by smell, so my smell can’t touch him.
Now for the fun part… underwater pictures! Even the big males got playful one day. I cannot describe the feeling of sea lions surrounding you and doing flips around you in the water… maybe magical works. Keep in mind that these pictures are not zoomed in, they are taken with GoPro.
Here are a few very short videos of these guys playing in the water:
Yes, you read that right, marine iguanas! These guys don’t have quite as easy a life as the sea lions. Since there is no food for them on land, they have evolved to eat algae off the rocks, metres below the surface! In the morning, they have to warm up their blood in the sun, because they are coldblooded. Then, they take the plunge! They can hold their breath for up to nine minutes! By the time they come up for air, they must get out of the water fast, or their muscles will tense up in the cold Galapagos water. It’s difficult for them to get in and out of the water, because the waves thrash them around. But the hardest part is that baby sea lions enjoy playing with them. Not killing or hurting, just playing. Just what the Marine Iguana needs when its muscles are tensing up and it’s so tired.
They ingest so much salt water while underwater, that they have a special gland in their head to take out the salt from their body. Then, they sneeze it all out!
Here is a short video of an iguana eating underwater: http://youtu.be/Z7AymhFdzAU