It was a beautiful day on Isabela as I rode a bike along the coast away from Puerto Villamil. With a view of the ocean on one side and a salty breeze in the air the miles flew by.
In the distance I spotted a dark haze or cloud hovering above the ocean. On such a clear day, it didn’t make sense, and I pedaled closer. The cloud was alive with movement. I walked across the beach and realized that the cloud was actually made of birds!
The largest mass was made of blue-footed boobies circling and then diving in unison, their bodies streamlined in the air, pointing almost vertically downward. They dove into the middle of the sea, and into the breaking waves on the beach with incredible speed.
Not to be left out of the action, pelicans with enormous beaks sat in the sea waiting to scoop up fish. Above the flock of boobies, a couple of frigate birds soared in circles, diving at the boobies once in a while to steal the catch of the day.
I had never seen so many blue-footed boobies in one spot. On my Galapagos vacation, we had come across a single blue-footed booby or nesting pairs sitting on cliffs or rocky shores, and we were amazed. Now there were hundreds of them!
Just a couple miles from town, I found myself almost alone, almost. A man splashed in the waves, surrounded by the blue-footed boobies and having a blast. I waded in and took photo after photo. He came out dripping and introduced himself. Jim was a local who retired to Isabela Island, and who goes walking on that beach every day. “They fish up and down the coast of Isabela, and we see them in town once every two weeks or so.”
That means perhaps that any given day we have a 1 in 14 chance of seeing the enormous flock of blue-footed boobies.
If I didn’t feel lucky enough to be on vacation in the Galapagos Islands, I certainly felt lucky after that day!
What is the most amazing thing you’ve seen in the Galapagos Islands? Or if you haven’t been, what would you most like to see? Let us know in comments?