Landfall on this island was a little easier as they had water taxies. While in Academy Bay we made a trip into the high country to see the Giant Tortoises. Giant tortoises occur only in the Galapagos and on the Aldabra atoll in the Indian Ocean. The thing that threatens them the most is humans and the animals we introduce. The word "galapago" in Spanish means "saddle" and refers to the shell of these huge reptiles. Tortoises lay between 2 and 20 eggs at a time. It takes 4 to 8 months to hatch. The temperature of the nest determines the sex, lower temperatures producing more males.
They hatch between November and April, taking a month to dig out of the sand where the egg was laid. Hawks are the only native predator of young tortoises. If they survive the first few years, they can live for over 150 years. Man has introduced many predators to the tortoises and they are trying to eliminate these predators in the Galapagos. Pigs, donkeys, goats and rats. Pigs and rats because they eat the eggs, goats because they eat all the food the tortoise eats and donkeys because they crush the nests that house the eggs.
The Ecuadorian Government, Friends of Galapagos and many other organizations, including the Charles Darwin Institute are doing much to help restore the tortoise population in the Galapagos.
The wildlife through this area is incredible. We saw blue footed boobies and brown footed foots, iguanas, sealions, sea turtles, tortoises, penguins, sharks, petrels, Darwin finches, manta rays and large dolphins. We have pictures of some throughout these articles, but not all. We saw all of these, however getting pictures was sometimes difficult.
While in Santa Cruz, we did some provisioning as the next leg of our trip was going to be over 3000 miles and we needed a few things - mostly fresh veggies.
We were unable to do many of the official tours offered because of Rick's foot. We did not want to spend a lot of money when we could not do the walking involved. So in most cases we created our own tours. One of the things we did was take a dinghy tour around the cliffs that edged Academy Bay. As we motored slowly along this area we saw sealions, pelicans and blue footed boobies very close up and personal.
On our tour of the island we came across this mural. This was painted on the wall outside the school. They used an artist to do the initial drawing and the children were involved in the painting. It depicts the island wildlife and the predators that exist on the various islands. It shows us that they are even working with the children to make them aware of the importance of saving the wildlife.
We left Academy Bay heading for Floreana - a place called Post Office Bay. On the trip over we were welcomed by some very large dolphins - these were called Orca dolphins. Some measuring up to 9 meters. We have all heard the stories of dolphins saving human lives, keeping people from drowning by pushing them above the water. One reason this may be true is that is how the female dolphins sustain their new born because dolphin babies must learn to breathe before they learn to swim. Come with us on our visit to Floreana