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For a slide show of the Galapagos Birds click on SLIDESHOW

I have dreamed of going to the Galapagos since I was a child. It epitomized my fascination with the power of Darwinian Natural Selection to drive the formation of new species and was the site where Darwin's five weeks on the islands led him to begin to formulate the radical idea that species were not immutable. Given the right environmental stressors they were capable of gradual changes to form new species. The led to the idea that more advanced life forms, including man, were derived from simpler precursors. The Galapagos Islands were the origin of the "Origin of the Species."

When Sally and I finally made plans to go we decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to engineer a family reunion of my three children – Mark, Scott and Karen and Karen's significant other, Tom. Mark was in Hong Kong, Scott was in Northern California and Karen and Tom were in Seattle and we had not all been together for many years. They all pounced on the idea. Sally had been there five years previously and we met because I heard she had gone and I wanted to see her pictures. We were married on Maui two years later. She had been on the Eclipse, a smallish boat carrying a maximum of 48 passengers, and we wanted to return on the Eclipse. For those who have not been to the Galapagos, Ecuador is wonderfully protective of these islands and allow only small groups of 16 or less to visit at a time – always accompanied by a trained Naturalist.

Although I was the most compulsive bird photographer, the whole family contributed. Mark and Scott came with brand new Canon T1i Rebels. This made the photos they took easy to distinguish in that the ones they took all have numbers less than 2,000. In addition, they did the most snorkeling, so virtually all the underwater photos are theirs.

The map below shows the eight major islands and numerous smaller islands. The feature that makes the Galapagos so unique is that even though it is on the equator the temperature in moderate. This is a result of the three major currents that impinge on the island – the Humbolt Current from the south carrying enormous amounts of Antarctic water, the Equatorial Current from the west and the California Current from the north, all keeping the islands temperate. The Equatorial Current carries massive amounts of plankton which are blocked from further passage by the islands rising from the deep ocean floor. This results in a wealth of fish which in turn attract thousands of sea birds. The temperate waters result in the growth of algae which provide the food for the Marine Iguanas. The result is that even though some of the islands often seem beak and barren, they support many different and wondrous life forms.

Each bird or reptile has its own page. Click on the title to go to the page and then click on the first picture and "next" for subsequent pictures to see them enlarged.

To see a wonderful account of the Galapagos geology and natural history I recommend the BBC Video set "Galapagos. The Island that Changed the World." Available from Amazon for only $10.