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Galapagos Islands | Pandemic halts excursions, so animals roam

Galapagos Islands | Pandemic halts excursions, so animals roam

Six hundred miles west of Ecuador’s coast, the Galapagos Islands are a sequence of volcanic islands — some nonetheless lively — dwelling to among the world’s richest biodiversity and endemism. Nearly 80% of the species discovered on the islands aren’t discovered anyplace else on Earth.

Along the rocky outcrops, marine iguanas bathe within the sizzling solar earlier than plunging into the cool waters, the place they swim alongside Galapagos penguins, and under the hovering, diving blue-footed boobies.

A confluence of oceanic currents meets on the Galapagos, giving rise to the extraordinary richness of wildlife — the place southern ocean, cold-water creatures, reminiscent of penguins and fur seals, are discovered alongside equatorial and North Pacific critters, reminiscent of sea lions and hammerhead sharks.

On land, the ecosystems vary from desert-like to lush and tropical — relying on altitude, wind publicity and geological age of the island. On Santa Cruz Island, for example, the northern finish is rocky, sandy and dry. But ascending the island’s volcano, and to the south, the ecosystem turns into lush and funky. Giant tortoises amble by tall grasses, munching on banana leaves and — to many native farmers’ annoyance — outside crops.

It is against the law to harm or kill a tortoise within the Galapagos — penalties vary from the low to excessive hundreds. Car and truck drivers cease to carry tortoises seen crossing roads. Sometimes, nonetheless, the tortoises are too massive to select up. So everybody simply has to attend.

A neighborhood resident stops to take away a Galapagos tortoise from the street on the island of Santa Cruz.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A white-tipped reef shark in the waters off North Seymour Island in the Galapagos.

A white-tipped reef shark within the waters off North Seymour Island within the Galapagos.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A juvenile blue-footed booby practices flapping his wings before beginning to fly on North Seymour Island in the Galapagos.

A juvenile blue-footed booby practices flapping his wings earlier than starting to fly on North Seymour Island within the Galapagos.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A blue-footed booby tends to her chicks on North Seymour Island in the Galapagos.

A blue-footed booby tends to her chicks on North Seymour Island within the Galapagos.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

With few tourists visiting the Galapagos, a baby sea lion has his first encounter with a human on North Seymour Island.

With few vacationers visiting the Galapagos, a child sea lion has his first encounter with a human on North Seymour Island.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Frigate birds fly off the Galapagos Islands.

Frigate birds fly off the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands are the breeding floor for a lot of species on land and within the sea.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A sea lion rests on a bus stop bench in Puerto Ayora, where tourism is down dramatically due to the pandemic.

A sea lion rests on a bus cease bench in Puerto Ayora, the place tourism is down dramatically because of the pandemic.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Pinnacle Rock is a celebrated volcanic plug on Bartholomew Island, one of Ecuador's Galapagos Islands.

Pinnacle Rock is a celebrated volcanic plug on Bartholomew Island, certainly one of Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

A red-footed booby sits above a group of iguanas on North Seymour Island, Galapagos.

A red-footed booby sits above a gaggle of iguanas on North Seymour Island, Galapagos.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

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