Darwin Bay – Galápagos Islands

a grey and white fluffy baby gull takes shelter under mamas gray and white wing

Aaron, the leader of this trip, was very excited to go to Darwin Bay as it is a beautiful nesting bird sanctuary with many types of the Galapagos birds.   

For me, the sea lions once again stole the show.   Birds are beautiful, but it's the mammals that really intrigue me.

We visited this part of the island from the panga with a wet landing onto a white shelly beach.   There was another boat and group of people laying on the beach when we got there - but what I noticed right away were the sea lions.

One sea lion was very inquisitive about one of the sun bathers from the other group.   We weren't sure quite how close he was going to get to her -- seemed like he wanted to lay on her towel.   

a young sea lion very close to a sun bather on the white beach

The other group left soon after and our group had the island to ourselves.   Many of the photographers in the group went straight inland to start photographing the nesting birds.   

I, on the other hand, stayed on the beach watching the sea lions.   

sea lion nursing
close up of a light colored sea lion sleeping
mama and baby sea lion laying side by side
sea lion sleeping on the beach

There was one sea lion in particular.   It was a little one - a baby in my eyes and he was desperately looking for his mama.   

baby sea lion covered in sand

As I had learned before, the mama sea lions leave the babies on the beach to go into the water to feed and then when they have eaten enough, they come back to where they left their babies and they are reunited and the mama nurses their baby.

A sea lion will not nurse another baby - so if a baby is separated from its mama or the mama is killed when out feeding, the baby will end up dying since it is not "normal" for a sea lion to adopt another infant.

As different sea lions came onto the beach, I kept watching "my" little one to see if he would reunite.   One after another after another and none of them was the mama.   

The baby would go up to each of them crying his pitiful little cry trying to ascertain if that adult was mom and he was rejected each time.

I finally left the beach to go look at the nesting birds.

red footed boobie perched on a cactus
a brown heron
an adult gull with her chick
A frigate bird showing his irridescent feathers
a frigate bird chases a gull that has nesting materials
a yellow cactus flower
2 red footed boobies deep in the bush

I actually took one of my favorite images of the trip.  This is such an unusual image for me because usually I'm all about the big mammals but this sweet little gull chick stole my heart and this one will be hanging on my wall at home soon.

a grey and white fluffy baby gull takes shelter under mamas gray and white wing

I also took a few short videos of some of the birds. 

But, I was eager to get back to the beach to check on "my" baby sealion.

portrait of a sea lion covered in sand
young sea lion laying in the sand

Unfortunately, we had to leave before mama came back and I was left wondering if something tragic had happened or if the mama sea lion was just enjoying some time without the little one.      

The little one at the end of the video below was the one I had been watching all afternoon.   This video was taken just before our group had to leave the island.

That's one "problem" with being in the wild.   There are so many stories that are left unfinished.   Did the baby reunite?   Where was mom?  Why was she gone so long?   Did she get enough nutrition to be able to feed the baby?   Did he live to independence?   So many questions, and no answers.

To view images from my trip to the Galapagos and my other trips to wildlife rich destinations, be sure to visit my photo gallery at


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The Cliff – Genovesa Island, Galápagos Islands

Per usual, the day started early with a 5:00 am breakfast and a 5:45 departure via Pangas.

Unfortunately for me, this departure did not go smoothly.   As I stepped into the panga, I failed to notice the emergency oar under the carpet and as I stepped into the boat - yup, there went the same ankle.   Turned under and I almost went down - not exactly sure how I managed to stay standing and in the panga.

Tears came immediately to my eyes from the pain.  It was suggested I stay behind but I've never missed an outing into the wild and I wasn't about to start now.   After the first minute or so it wasn't quite as bad.

As we motored to the island - I thought - well, maybe I should have stayed back.  I had no idea how I was going to make it up the "stairs" with my camera gear on a bad ankle.

The stairs were cut into the cliff side and were very uneven.   A challenge for some even under the best conditions.

Thankfully, Kelly - the backpacker insisted on carrying my back pack up for me.   I was and am forever grateful for the assist.    It took me a long time on a bad ankle to get up those stairs.

The side of the cliff that we had to get up in order to see the colonies of birds.

Here is a picture (faces blurred for privacy) of all of us coming down after our time up on the cliff.   You can see how steep and uneven the "steps" are.

many people on the steep steps coming down from the cliff

Once we got to the top, it was fairly flat and birds everywhere.   At the time, the naturalist told us the types of birds - but I'm really sorry as I do not remember most of them.

a panoramic view of the top of the cliff

A rare picture of me (thank you Sue) doing what I love

me sitting on the ground photographing birds

A few of the bird images I shot that morning.  

The first frigate is with his pouch deflated and the second is a different frigate with his pouch puffed out.   It was funny watching them when the pouches were out trying to move their heads around because the pouch would get in the way of their beaks.

red footed boobie that had brownish wings and feathers

The walk was short but nice -- full of birds.   On the other side of the island (where the birds are flying in the video), it was extremely windy.   I didn't stay over there for long and walked back to where most of the boobies were.

After I took the treacherous stairs back down to the panga and went back to the boat, it was time for snorkeling.  

The water was very rough at this point and I don't do well with motion sickness and I'm not a very strong swimmer so I was tempted to not go on this excursion -- but as I mentioned above, I have never missed a chance to be in the field, so I took a deep breath and stuffed myself into the wetsuit for the next adventure.

We were told we had a great chance of seeing hammer head sharks on this snorkel.   I remember from my diving days, the one shark they would always make us get out of the water for was a hammerhead shark so I was a bit confused why we were going in search for them.

Between the rough water and the sharks, I was more than a bit apprehensive.

Even though some of the sharks were big, this was a nursery.   I'm not super comfortable in rough open water, so I stayed on top but the naturalist went down and took some pictures for us.

The video was shot on my GoPro camera and the stills were given to me by the naturalist (taken on our snorkel trip)

To see images from the Galapagos and other trips, be sure to visit my photo gallery at


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