I Heart Boobies (Isla de la Plata, Ecuador)


...I think that's what the kids are saying these days. I'm not talking breast cancer awareness though... I'm talking about the blue footed boobie. This bird is one of the coolest looking, but stupidest, birds I've ever seen. They are extraordinarily clumsy, and seem to do almost anything to avoid having to fly. They are notably found in the Galapagos, but we were able to see them on our recent day trip to Isla de la Plata. The island, also known as "poor man's Galapagos," is an hour by boat outside of Puerto Lopez, Ecuador. The reason they are able to survive is because there are literally no predators there. I am reasonably certain that the introduction of a domesticated house cat to the island would probably be enough to drive them into extinction. Enough about the boobies though.


June is the beginning of mating season for humpback whales, and we were excited to get to see four or five of them on the boat ride to the island. We saw several waterspouts in the distance, so I know there were a lot more out there. At one point, there were two so close to the front of the boat that we wondered if they would knock it over. They were absolutely enormous. When we got to the island, they docked the boat and our group made its way ashore. Our guide led us along a few trails, where we spotted dozens of our booby friends. They seemed more curious than afraid of people, and we often had to deviate off the trail to get by because they didn't move.


Toward the end of the trail, we came to an area of trees that were completely filled with frigate birds. The males have a bright red pouch under their beaks that they inflate to attract a mate. They didn't like it when we got too close, but Daniel was able to snap some great pictures nonetheless. Once we were finished on the island, we boarded the boat for lunch. Our guide threw some small bits of watermelon rind into the water, which attracted some hungry turtles and beautiful fish. The water was completely clear, so we got a great show.


We ended the trip with me getting horribly sea sick on the ride back. Daniel spotted some more whales and various birds, but at that point I couldn't care less. I've heard the recommendation to focus on the horizon when you are motion sick. Unfortunately, that advice doesn't work when the horizon looks like it is doing cartwheels because you are bouncing around so much. There was no hurling involved though, so the trip was still a win.

You can check out the rest of our pictures from Isla de la Plata here