It’s true that no matter where we happen to be, we’re always happy to see boobies. It’s even more true than usual here in the Galapagos, which is the place that made the Blue Footed Boobie one of the most famous bird species ever. This was one of the birds that captured Charles Darwin’s interest during his time in the Galapagos in the 1830’s. He found that the color of the male boobie’s feet was a signal to female boobies that the male is healthy, well fed, young, and thus capable of looking after her and her offspring. That the females chose mates with the brightest blue feet was a form of natural selection which caused the blue footed gene to pass through to future generations, weeding out the boobies with other colored feet in the process.
Looking at the exotic creatures in the Galapagos and admiring their unusual features is a huge part of what makes the Galapagos so interesting. But if that’s all you find here, you’ve missed a big part of what the Galapagos is all about. Every species and sub-species here has an interesting story like that of the boobies about why its physical or behavioral characteristics were somehow helpful for its survival and reproduction, and trying to figure out why the animals evolved the way they did makes the Galapagos experience unique. If your mind is open and alert, you can learn a lot about life just by studying the wildlife and thinking to yourself about why the things you’re seeing are the way they are. The long bird beaks, the rugged tortoise shells, the shape of the hammerhead shark’s head, the spikes on the iguanas’ backs, and the fire red color of the crabs are just some examples of interesting traits that have helped these animals survive the unique conditions of their own habitats, but the list is endless, and that’s why you could probably spend a few years here and not get bored. We probably aren’t the first visitors to come to the Galapagos and wonder about the process for becoming an Ecuadorian naturalist.
But for the time being we’ve committed ourselves to a different type of endeavor that permits no more time for exploring this group of islands. The islands of the South Pacific are still over 3000 miles away and the clock is now ticking on the upcoming cyclone season that will force us to get through the South Pacific and into the Arafura Sea north of Australia by mid December, meaning every day is now precious. We’ll again have far less time than we need to see everything there, a condition we’re now so used to that it no longer bothers us… almost certainly this won’t be our last time through this part of the world in this lifetime.
The next three weeks will take us through one of the most remote and untraveled places in the world – it’s unlikely we’ll see another boat during the three week passage, nor a bird, and some people tell us we’re unlikely even to catch a fish (which won’t stop us trying). Our remoteness limits our ability to communicate as our normal onboard satellite internet connection is out of range, forcing us onto a more expensive network with data costs that are outrageous ($13 per megabyte instead of our usual $1). We will try to update our blog (www.tamariskrtw.com) during our passage, but if you’re following our journey on Facebook you probably won’t see much till we touch land next month – we’re OK, please don’t panic. Conditions look excellent for a departure this morning, so we’re loading up with fruits and veggies and will be pulling the anchor for our longest ocean passage yet in about two hours.