Images from the Galapagos Islands

Tom Davis

Last modified: August 21, 1997


I visited the Galapagos Islands in May, 1994 and took a lot of photos. Here are a few of them. Here are more photos from a later trip in 1997.

They were mostly taken on Fuji Velvia, and transferred to PhotoCD. They may appear to be washed out if your system's gamma is wrong. If they do, try different gamma settings. On SGI machines, for example, set the gamma on your system to 1.0. They're also better if you turn off the lights in your office.

If you're interested in photography, see this page for some advice for neotropical photographers.

There are larger versions available for all of the images. To view them, simply click on the images in this file.

Almost all the photos here were taken with a 300mm f/4 lens on a Nikon F4s attached to a small Gitzo tripod. The lens was a good compromise in that it's a pretty good telephoto lens, and if the subject is too close, it was almost always possible to back up.

discovery icon This site has been selected as a valuable Internet resource for Discovery Channel School's H2Oceans theme for spring 1997.

burrowing owl

Short-Eared Owl

We spent about an hour hiking to get to a spot where we might find these owls. We finally did spot one, and it's a tiny dot in the middle of a photo. As we were about to leave, however, we found this one, and I was able to get within about 20 feet.

Blue footed booby

Blue-Footed Booby

There were gazillions of these. Some had feet that were a much brighter shade of blue than others. In spite of the fact that he's sitting on an egg, this is a male (you can tell because the pupil is tiny).

Masked Booby

Masked Booby

Another species of booby on the islands. Like all the booby species we saw there, these birds were absolutely fearless. They made their nests right on the trails, and we had to step over them, and the birds didn't even move while this was happening.

Red footed Booby

Red-Footed Booby

The red-footed booby nests in trees, which is a bit problematical, given that it has webbed feet. Oh well, maybe another million years of evolution will help it out .... These birds are only found in a few places in the Galapagos. It took an overnight boat ride to Tower Island to see them.

Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican

This is the same as the brown pelicans found elsewhere, but somehow the colors seemed a lot more intense -- especially the chestnut coloring on the neck.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Vermillion Flycatcher

We only saw a couple of these, and they were pretty quick and nervous. This is a male which we found in the dense forests around Los Gemelos -- a couple of huge depressions in the ground.

Great Frigatebird

Great Frigate Bird

There were lots of frigate birds. This is a male (the giant red gular sac is to attract females -- when he mates, the sac will deflate). They can't land in the water because their feathers aren't waterproof, so they have to get by stealing fish or babies from boobies and pelicans. The slightly greenish tint to the feathers on his back indicates that this is a great frigate bird. The other species in the Galapagos is called the magnificent frigate bird.

Galápagos Hawk

Galapagos Hawk

There were quite a few of these -- we must have seen 20 of them during our trip. They were pretty fearless, and I got within about 10 feet of this one. The photo's taken with a 300mm f/4 lens. We were not allowed to use a flash on the islands, and a fill-flash would have made this photo a lot better.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Just like the herons at home, but a little less nervous. This one was hanging around the Galapagos Hotel.

Sally Lightfoot Crab

Sally Lightfoot Crab

There were gazillions of these as well. On different islands, the colors were slightly different, and this specimen is one of the brightest. Young crabs are dark green, but apparently, by the time they reach adulthood, they have no natural predators, and can afford to display this coloration.

Marine Iguana

Marine Iguana

These are the only iguanas that swim in the ocean (voluntarily, at least). They live on the algae that grows on the bottom. The water around the Galapagos Islands is pretty cold, so after each couple of dives, these iguanas line up on the rocks to bask in the sun and get their body temperatures back up. The colors vary quite a bit from island to island, and some of the individuals have so much red and green coloring that they're called "Christmas Tree Iguanas".

Since they spend so much time in the ocean, these animals have a big problem with salt accumulation, and they have special salt excretory organs, and every now and then, you'll see (or more likely, hear) one snorting highly condensed salt out its nostrils. Many individuals have salt caked all over their faces.

Marine Iguana and Lava Lizard

Iggy Boone

Like Daniel Boone, this marine iguana has a hat with a tail. Only instead of a racoon's tail, it's a lava lizard.

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