The question is not what you look at,
but what you see.
In the early 1500s Tomas de Berlanga, a Bishop of Panama, was blown off course in the Pacific and landed in the Galapagos Islands. This is how he described the land at first sight: “It looked as though God had caused it to rain stones.”
Most of the islands are volcanic, desolate stretches of rock that jut suddenly out of the sea like a mistake or an afterthought. A few have green areas, like Isla Santa Cruz with its tropical forest near the town of Santa Rosa, which is home to the El Chato Tortoise Reserve. But mostly the bishop was accurate in his description. There are a whole lot of rocks and not much else at first sight. But look closer…
This photo was taken on Isla Genovesa, the northeastern most island in the archipelago. The island is just 14 square kilometers in size and has no real tourist visitor sites, but with a certified guide you can reach Genovesa by panga at a couple of landing spots. Here, at Darwin Bay, we swam with eagle rays and sunbathed with fur seals. On the other side of the island the water depth drops abruptly to more than 2,000 feet. An enormous manta ray (they can reach 20 feet across) swam playfully alongside our boat. And the island is an absolute haven for birds — frigate birds, red-footed boobies, masked boobies, storm petrels, swallow-tail gulls, short-eared owls, and, of course, lots of finches.
I found this harsh and barren-looking landscape full of surprises and a place to connect with nature in a way that may not be possible anywhere else on Earth. We were in the minority here, the odd animal of the bunch, and I felt a profound sense of responsibility attached to my uniqueness as a human being.
Tomorrow, June 8, is World Oceans Day. Support our world’s pretty water whenever you can — over 71% of the Earth’s surface is water!