Ecuador's Galapagos Islands - 2003

These 1000 penguins are found only here and are very much at risk from changes in seawater temperature which come with El Nino and La Nina oceanic effects.

These dapper little fellows are marked very like the Magallanic penguins we saw in Argentina. The two were fishing and playing right around the Zodiac so we had really good viewing. They are such efficient swimmers that they can outrun the fish they are chasing. 1000 individuals is not a reassuring number for overall species survival!

We saw another phenomenon peculiar to the Galapagos today—the guarua mist. It covered all the hills and mountains we saw today. Because it carries so much moisture, this strange “fog” allows the high places in the Galapagos to be mini- cloud forests with bromeliads growing atop cacti! Its appearance imparted to our explorations today an eerie quality as well as a “wet” one because the mist condensed as soon as it touched our skin, the boats, or our clothing. At times it was heavy enough to seem like rain with droplets forming on our binos and cameras. The oddest fact about the guarua, however, is that it makes July & August the coolest months here (you might need a sweater at noon) rather than the hottest as one would anticipate based on the equatorial location of the islands. Because of this mist, many small birds and animals can survive on these desert places.

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