Size does matter. That’s what our naturalist told us as we watched the blue-footed boobies perform their mating dance. Foot size, that is. Because the male boobies are a progressive bunch who share the egg incubation and child-rearing duties with the larger, female boobies, the females look for big feet, in addition to the perfect blue, when choosing a mate.
When Matt and I returned from our trip to Wisconsin over Christmas, the end was in sight – only 3 more months on the Galapagos. We were eagerly counting down and one of the highlights along the way was our second Lindblad National Geographic expedition, this time on the newly launched Endeavor II. (Here are posts on our first National Geographic cruise and my cruise on the smaller Samba: Cruising the Galapagos and Sailing on the Samba.) Admittedly, Matt and I approached the cruise with a bit of a “been there, done that” attitude: after almost 2 years we have seen most that the islands have to offer. Instead, the islands wowed us again and we were as enthusiastic as first-time visitors when we saw new-to-us animals and voyeuristically observed mating behaviors.
Back to the sex. The birds were providing quite the shows. This poor swallow-tail gull couple had their fun interrupted by a frigatebird who just wanted to cause trouble!
Matt and I were thrilled to see flightless cormorants for the first time. This pair did not disappoint: we watched their courtship dance that began in the water and then continued on shore only a few feet in front of us. Their turquoise eyes were stunning.
While the blue-footed boobies get most of the attention, the red-footed boobies’ colors are even more spectacular with their blue and red beaks in addition to their red feet. These pairs had already committed and were in the real estate phase of their relationships. The males would fly off in search of just the right twig, which they would return to give to the female. Then the two would fight over exactly where to place the twig in the nest. Who said decorating is easy in the wild?!
The frigatebird bachelors were doing their best to attract some females. They have a teenage boy mentality: the males all hang out together, puff out their pouches and whistle to the females in an attempt to get their attention. No one got lucky while we were there.
It was not all about the birds. My beloved marine iguanas were building their nests. It was a spectacular sight to see their compact bodies kicking up sand everywhere we looked. Even more fun were the turf wars.
We didn’t just see great land animals. On our way back from a hike, we spotted a whale from our zodiac. The rest of the passengers were back on board, but we were off on a wild whale chase!
It was both exhilarating and slightly terrifying – zodiacs are just little rubber dinghies! Matt and I were lucky to spot this orca from the ship on another day.
One of my favorite creatures to spot while snorkeling is the elusive octopus. This one was pretty easy to see for a change.
And, of course, my favorite:
Which leads us to the land iguanas.
In addition to the great animals and views, we also met fantastic people and had good conversations, games and laughs. An unforgettable last trip around the islands!