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Tintoreras Bay

In the Galapagos, you can never predict what animals you will see. The first time I visited Tintoreras Bay on Isabela Island in September, I saw piles upon piles of marine iguanas resting against a rugged landscape of lava fields, covered in white lichens.

Piles of marine iguanas in September

Piles of marine iguanas in September

The second time I came in March, our naturalist guide told us that it was marine iguana nesting season, and that the previous week, she had seen frigate birds trying to steal the eggs out of nests, as the iguanas would accidentally nest in the same spot, digging up each others eggs.

I arrived on shore with high expectations, eager and with my camera poised, but no frigate birds appeared and we only saw a couple solitary iguanas from wandering around. But the Galapagos never ceases to amaze…

A solitary marine iguana in March

A solitary marine iguana in March

The rescue story

We rounded a corner in the path across the volcanic rocks, and lo and behold there was an iguana half buried in a hole in the ground, its head visible but its body and tail under the rocks and sand. “Wow! are we actually seeing an iguana nesting right now?¨  But our naturalist guide Sandra knew better. She bent down, concerned. “It needs our help,” she said, and started scooping rocks away. According to Sandra the iguanas typically nest in sandy areas, but sometimes they try to nest in rocky areas and the nests collapse and the iguanas get trapped under the rocks and die.

Sandra digs the trapped marine iguana out to freedom

Sandra digs the trapped marine iguana out to freedom

Once freed, the lizard skittled out of its hole quickly, perhaps happy to be free again. It then sat there on the gravel, not the least scared, taking in the warm sun as us tourists gawked.

We rounded the corner and saw dozens of other nests, little indentations in the ground where the other iguana had nested. I still can´t believe it. The same exact spot in the Galapagos yielded three completely different but all equally amazing experiences – from piles of marine iguanas, egg-stealing frigate birds, and a heroic rescue story.

The marine iguana free!

The marine iguana now freed!

I think I have learned, as Sandra advised me….it is not guaranteed you will see any animal or thing in particular in the Galapagos, but what you will certainly see something amazing!



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