With Richard Dawkins in the Galapagos Islands, Part Six: Day Three, Fernandina

           On Sunday morning, Mother’s Day, we visited Fernandina, one of the youngest of the islands. We walked on the smooth and roping Pahoehoe lava, which emerges from the volcano as a liquid or close to it, en route inland to see the sharper A’a lava, which emerges less liquidy and therefore hardens into shards that are very difficult on which to walk.
Fabian, our guide (at right), pointed out the many marine iguanas that lounged on the Pahoehoe, as well as a Blue Heron and Flightless Cormorants (below).


As we watched, one emerged from the sea with seaweed in her beak to lay it onto a nest (above) right in the path and settle down; then the male emerged from the other end of the small peninsula on which we stood, carrying seaweed in his beak as well. She, sitting on the nest, squawked at him, and he, with his beak full, squawked right back as he waddled to the nest. He did his own nest building, and then they both settled down for a good joint squawking.

The lagoon looked fresh and inviting, but it was just a tunnel letting in salt water from the ocean. It was a hot, hot day, and soon I was exhausted from walking in the sun on that dark, heat-sucking Pahoehoe (below). When we finally reached the A’a lava (right) I saw how it can play tricks on the eyes, and seem to hold animal shapes within it.



Views of the lava:


The skeleton (obviously neatly rearranged) of an unidentified whale is below left. The GPS marker for the Nazca Plate, on which most of the island ride, is below, and some intact sea urchin shells that we found and photographed (since beachcombing is forbidden) are below right.

More photos of the lava below, and iguanas:

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