The Galápagos Islands are unique in their isolated biodiversity. According to the Galapagos Conservancy:
The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the highest levels of endemism (species found nowhere else on earth) anywhere on the planet. About 80% of the land birds you will see, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are endemic. More than 20% of the marine species in Galapagos are found nowhere else on earth. Favorites include the giant Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana, flightless cormorant, and the Galapagos penguin — the only penguin species to be found in the Northern Hemisphere.
I have shown you many of these species in previous posts, but today I want to display some of the smaller and less talked about. These creatures may not be the top attractions, but they are nonetheless fascinating and deserve some recognition,
ORB WEAVING SPIDER – Honestly it was the web of this spider that caught my eye rather than the spider itself – it isn’t very big, but boy is it talented. Despite wind, rain and clumsy creatures such at myself destroying its construction, this one particular spider succeeded in creating a symmetrical wonder.
I have taken spiderweb photos before. An ongoing “dew” project requires me to go out very early in the morning and capture shots of bedewed objects, with spiderwebs being a favorite for obvious reasons:
The above web is stunning, but fairly small – maybe no more than 6 or 7 inches across, so if you weren’t really focused on finding one, you might miss it altogether. The Galapagos orb weaving spider’s web, however was inescapable – in more ways than one. This web was large enough to encompass me. Here is a photo of the entire Galapagos orb weaving spiderweb:
That spider was tiny. There are other spiders on the islands, however that were instant contenders for my Facing My Fears campaign:
If this spider appears to be hanging in mid-air – you are correct, it is. I am not sure exactly how large it is, but consider that I took this photo with my 600m lens fully extended, so even at that distance, it looks sizable. Add to the fact that it was swaying in the breeze from a branch that overlooked where we were standing – which was a precipice at the top of a mountain we had just climbed in order to get a special view of the sunset. Frankly I liked the sunset view better:
As long as we are in the facing my fears mode, let me share two other, up close and personal encounters that were accomplished by holding my breath:
FACING MY FEARS, PART 2: WASPS
FACING MY FEARS, PART 3: BEES
I find that I still tend to hold my breath when looking at these photos, so let’s move on before I pass out.
The piece du resistance of this post is one of the most colorful creatures of the Galapagos and also quite plentiful – although they are very fast, providing an extra challenge to photograph.
SALLY LIGHTFOOT CRABS – These crabs are scavengers and provide an essential service of keeping shorelines clean of organic debris. They eat everything, including other crabs and priced a tick removal service for the marine iguanas.
It’s not their diet that attracted me – rather it is their bold coloring and just as bold backstory explaining their name. The SLC are swift and agile – they can run swiftly in any direction, jump from rock to rock and can even climb vertical slopes. This dexterity gave rise to the seamn’s Lore about a barely but brightly dressed Caribbean dancer of some ill repute named Sally Lightfoot.
The crabs’ quickness and agility make them not only difficult to catch but also infuriatingly difficult to photograph. Aha but I am experienced in the interminable wait to get the right shot:
I like to think that this last crab is smiling at me.