There is a fish market in the town of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island that is unlike any other I’ve ever seen. You won’t want to miss the evening show put on by a rascally Sea Lion and a gang of pesky Pelicans. The air is full of excitement as they vie for position in the competitive game of scraping for scraps.
Walking through the town of Puerto Ayora at dusk is a treat in itself, but to add an unforgettable experience to your evening, make sure you stop at the local fish market. Just before sunset, the Pelicans gather; they grow in number until there are about a dozen or more. A fisherman, a young boy and a Sea Lion are also present. Upon the table is a pile of fresh fish. Once all of these players are assembled, the game really gets going.
The action plays out something like this:
As The Fishermen sits down to take a rest from cleaning and selling the fish, The Pelicans move in on the remaining fish. They inch closer and closer until the fisherman motions with an outstretched arm to The Young Boy, and he flies in to shoo away the large hungry birds. Up next, the fisherman with the water hose. He turns it on the gang of pelicans, blasting them with a stream of water which sends them slipping and scurrying away. But the game isn’t over. The pelicans continue their relentless attempts at stealing the fish, until it’s all too much for The Sea Lion. He moves into action, hurling himself down the wet concrete floor of the market, barking loudly as he successfully scares the pelicans off of the playing field.
The game plays out (with many comical variations of the above) until the fisherman packs it in for the night.
The pelicans continue to get chased away, and the Sea Lion gets all kinds of goodies. This was quite a show, they were like a bunch of schoolkids, the Pelicans were the gang of rascals, and the Sea Lion was the teachers pet. This little guy really is just like a pet. He sits at the feet of the fishermen nudging his boot until the gets some bits of fish, which the fisherman drops into his wide open mouth. When the fisherman sits down, the Sea Lion lies across his rubber boots and nuzzles his head into his masters legs, just like a puppy!
With all this action taking place, people mingle and take lots of pictures; it was a cool atmosphere. Sitting on the steps of the fish market with my family, watching all this take place gave me that feeling you get when you know you’ve just done (or seen) something you’ll never forget.
When you’re visiting Santa Cruz, don’t miss the fish market in Puerto Ayora.