The Gorgeous Galapagos

Oonagh Jordan
November 18, 2015

Disclaimer: My art for this post will not be a good representation of the Galapagos' beauty. Trust me, it's gorgeous. 

We were in the Galapagos for more time than we were in the Amazon. We stayed in San Cristobal and Santa Elena. 

We first stayed on San Cristobal, and the main takeaway from that island was - holy sea cow, there are sea lions everywhere. During the day, you could see many on the steps at the dock and on the dock itself. At night, the sea lions came up onto the beach and the sidewalk. On our way back the first day from a day at the beach, we saw sea lions on the sidewalk - I almost stepped on one (which would have ended so so so poorly - like people, they can be pretty agitated if woken up). 

But the greatest thing we saw that evening was a humongous sea lion (most likely male) lying on a bench. If anyone stepped too close, it would let out this incredibly loud and guttural growl. A smaller sea lion was lying below him, and if they ever made a move that he considered too close to comfort, he would make the threatening groaning sound. 

These animals are so funny, cute, and relatable in an odd way, and definitely made our experience on San Cristobal so much better. We also learned a lot about them:

- Full-grown male sea lions will "claim" a parcel of land that female sea lions and their cubs will come to. The male protects his territory by making "rounds" and barking every so often. This strategy ups his reproductive chances. 

- Sea lions have a longer gestation period than humans - I believe 9-11 months. In addition, sea lion cubs can nurse until they're 4 years old. Sometimes the child is bigger than the mother, but still nursing. 

- Female sea lions spend a majority of their life either pregnant or nursing. 

- Baby sea lions cannot swim, so the mothers go into the ocean to eat and leave their babies on the beaches that are protected by the male sea lion (though he does not care for the baby's fate). It's heartbreaking to see a baby sea lion along on the beach and calling desperately to its mother. 

- Sea lions are one of, if not the only, social animals in the Galapagos. However, it seems that they are very resigned to this fact. On the beach, a sea lion just coming out of the water will waddle around looking for a place to sleep, and instead of avoiding its fellow sea lions, will waddle right over them. Cries of frustration are very common. However, they do cuddle a lot, and that is adorable. 

Oonagh Jordan

<p>I&#39;m Oonagh (ooh-nah), a junior at Grinnell College, and a Political Science major who fancies herself an occasional artist and a lifelong doodler. I&#39;m very excited and mildly terrified to start my stay in Quito, but I&#39;m very much looking forward to immersing myself in the language and culture.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2015 Fall
Home university:
Grinnell College
Major:
Political Science
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