21 September 2011

The Tintoreras, Galápagos

The Tintoreras, named after the white-tipped sharks that lurk here, are a group of small islets just offshore from Puerto Villamil on Isla Isabela. Hardly more than a reef, they provide habitat for abundant wildlife — everything from the sharks and sea turtles to penguins, marine iguanas, sea lions and the famous blue-footed boobies. Like most places in the Galápagos, visits are strictly regulated and walking on the islets is restricted to a well-defined loop path — not that the tempation's great to stray from it when much of the rest of the area looks like this. This is solidified A'A' lava; the white is lichen. Not all the Tintoreras is so forbidding, though: mangroves grow in some parts and small, sandy or pebbly beaches allow sea lions to haul out and increase the diversity of habitats.

On a two and a half hour tour here I took the plunge, literally, and snorkelled from the boat at the edge of a small islet. Although the water wasn't as cold as I'd feared, I couldn't stay in for long. Well worth it, though, especially the delight of swimming underwater with a sea turtle.

[15 September 2011 (Ecuador), Panasonic Lumix GH1, 14–45 mm at 14 mm, ISO 400, 1/640 at f8] 

All content © 2011 Pete McGregor


Relatively Retiring said...

Oh, how marvellous! Do you have an underwater camera?
I've just been listening to a wild-life radio programme about the threat to birds (in particular) from specific mosquitoes hitching a ride to the Galapagos on cruise ships and aircraft. It sounds as if there are preventative measures, but how vulnerable it all is.

pohanginapete said...

RR, if my camera ends up underwater, this blog might grind to a halt for a while. Actually, in some ways I'm glad I can't photograph underwater — it frees me from the compulsion to photograph and allows me to better enjoy what I'm seeing. While snorkelling at the Tintoreras, I realised what I'd been missing; maybe I'll get back into it when I return to Aotearoa.

pohanginapete said...

RR, P.S. — a friend sent me the guardian article link a day or two ago. Definitely a worry, although as the plane was coming in to land in the Galápagos the crew walked the length of the cabin spraying insecticide. I think most of the cruise boats are based in the Galápagos, so it's really the cargo ships coming from the mainland that I think would be the main risk.

butuki said...

I thought at first this was a field of marine iguanas! (my eyes are failing me these days). I love getting this more intimate, down-to-earth view of the Galapagos, rather than the usual fare.

pohanginapete said...

Miguel, perhaps your eyes are keener than most — there were hundreds of them there (admittedly most were closer to the water).
    I think to do the Galápagos justice requires plenty of time; plenty of time to get the "Oh, I must photograph that!" impulses out of the way.