Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Near Tower Island, Galapagos, Ecuador

Posted at 8:15 pm, May 17th, 2003

Greg decreed that today was the day for massive amounts of birds, hammerhead sharks, kayak racing, and bioluminescence, and he delivered on all accounts. Tower is the home of hundreds of thousands of birds, so we started out by roaming amongst storm petrels, red footed boobies, frigate birds, Nazca boobies, and even a few owls. The frigate birds were particularly entertaining as the males inflated giant red pouches on their necks, flapped their wings, and made a goofy gobbling call whenever a female flew overhead — I remarked to JB that it seemed like one of God’s great jokes that they would have to be so ridiculous in order to land a date.

The first snorkel of the day was in the midst of the submerged volcanic crater that makes up the bay here, and despite the murky (and cold) waters a couple of hammerheads made brief appearances — one passed about three feet underneath me. A fur seal came to play for a bit, and it scared the crap out of me when it first showed up by swimming under my belly and blowing bubbles into my face from about an inch away — when you’re looking for sharks having something big pop up unexpectedly an inch from your face is a bit of an adrenaline rush.

The much built-up kayak race was won by Trey and Skip, although JB and I gave it our best — my arms are still tired six hours later. The second trip on land included more birds, and as is typical in these islands they pretty much ignored us as we walked by within a foot or two of them. The day’s final event was a night snorkel, and the bioluminescence here completely blew everyone away — when the water is churned it looks like fireflies are in it, apparently due to a plankton in the water. We also spotted lobsters, an eel, and a few other nocturnal organisms before getting out of the water, but the lights in the water will be what everyone will remember most — our panga was pimpin’ as it cruised across the bay with light shining underneath. Tomorrow is the last full day touring the islands, and it’s definitely sad to see the trip coming to an end.

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