Galapagos islands, video

This video, made in Ecuador, says about itself:

Discover the Galápagos Islands with National Geographic Expeditions

24 sep 2013

Watch sea lions loop around snorkelers and blue-footed boobies strut down the beach.

Blue-footed booby invasion in California

This video is called Blue Footed Booby Mating Dance.

By Jason Hoppin, Santa Cruz Sentinel in the USA:

Booby invasion causes ‘huge excitement’ among Bay Area birders

09/19/2013 11:41:35 AM MDT

LIVE OAK — On a rocky shelf next to Sunny Cove, UC Santa Cruz student Abe Borker and some friends looked over the water Tuesday, scanning for an impossibility.

Yet there it was: the blue-footed booby, a subtropical seabird famed from the Galapagos Islands to the Sea of Cortez for its long, pointed beak, clumsy waddle and pastel-colored webbed feet, a combination that makes the bird look like it walked off a Pixar movie set.

“I was really excited,” said Borker, who is working toward a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary behavior. “I’d seen one in Mexico earlier this year, but I never thought I’d see one in Santa Cruz.”

Boobies are invading the coast of California with dozens of sightings recorded, especially in Southern California, something that that hasn’t been seen since 1971. They have been spotted as far north at Point Reyes, according to bird trackers, and there have been several local sightings as well.

Most seem to be juveniles, which have yet to develop the telltale blue feet. They tend to dwell in flocks of brown pelicans — another migratory seabird — and the first local sightings began on Sunday.

“Huge excitement for birders,” said Brian Sullivan, a locally based director of, a project of the New York-based Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Right now there’s lots of birders out there to see and document this invasion.”

Sullivan spotted one near Point Pinos. They have since been seen in Capitola, Live Oak and Pescadero, and people like Monterey birding expert Don Roberson are keeping a sharp lookout for more.

Roberson said he narrowly missed a Sunday sighting. He also rushed out to a lunchtime report of three flying over the Monterey Wharf on Wednesday, to no avail. He aches to see one.

“There’s a lot of excitement. It’s been 42 years since there’s been one in Monterey County. I don’t have another 42 years,” Roberson said, author of “Birder’s California” and an authority on the history of local birding.

After hearing about the booby invasion, Alex Rinkert and a friend ventured to Seacliff State Beach, hoping to find one among an ongoing feeding frenzy of birds.

“On Tuesday, we saw one fly up the coast passing the cement ship at Seacliff, and then later in the day we found two roosting with many brown pelicans, Brandt’s cormorants, and Heermann’s gulls at BlackPoint on the Live Oak coast,” Rinkert said. “We were ecstatic at this point!”

Why the invasions occur has not been pinpointed. There have been reports of abundant anchovies in Monterey Bay, which has contributed to a phenomenal number of whales locally.

But Sullivan said it’s more likely the boobies are being pushed up here by a collapse of their food supply in Mexico. Roberson posited that it could be a combination of food scarcity following robust breeding seasons, which may explain why this invasion, as in 1971, features juvenile birds.

Bernie Tershy, a professor with UCSC’s Coastal Conservation Action Lab, believes that’s a strong possibility as well. He wrote his dissertation on boobies, and notes that while other kind of boobies will hatch one chick, the blue-footed variety can hatch up to four.

“The blue-footed booby are really set up to take advantage of good years,” Tershy said. “Their population can increase dramatically during good years.”

To Report a Booby

Seen a booby? Take notes and include your observations at

See also here.

Blue-footed Boobies are on the decline in the Galápagos. A new study appearing in the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology indicates numbers of the iconic birds, known for their bright blue feet and propensity to burst into dance to attract mates, have fallen more than 50 percent in less than 20 years. Read more here.

Galápagos Darwin’s finches evolution, new study

This video says about itself:

May 14, 2012

Darwin’s Finches in the Galapagos: Small Ground-finch, Large Ground-finch, Sharp-beaked Ground-finch (Vampire Finch), Common Cactus-finch, Small Tree-finch, Warbler finch.

From the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society in Britain:

Adaptive divergence in Darwin’s small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa): divergent selection along a cline

Article first published online: 14 JUNE 2013


We examine here, in a single year (2005), phenotypic divergence along a 560-m elevation gradient in Darwin‘s small ground finch (Geospiza fuliginosa) in the Galápagos Islands. In this sample, four composite measures of phenotypic traits showed significant differences along the 18-km geographical cline extending from lowlands to highlands.

Compared with lowland birds, highland birds had larger and more pointed beaks, and thicker tarsi, but smaller feet and claws. Finches in an intervening agricultural zone had predominantly intermediate trait values. In a second, mark–recapture study we analyse selection on morphological traits among birds recaptured across years (2000–2005) in lowland and highland habitats.

Birds were more likely to survive in the highlands and during the wet season, as well as if they had large beaks and bodies. In addition, highland birds exhibited higher survival rates if they had small feet and pointed beaks – attributes common to highland birds as a whole. Lowland birds were more likely to survive if they possessed the opposite traits. Selection therefore reinforced existing morphological divergence, which appears to reflect local adaptation to differing resources during the predominantly drought-ridden conditions that characterized the 5-year study. Alternative explanations – including genetic drift, matching habitat choice, deformation by parasites, and the effects of wear – received little or no support.

Why Philornis downsi, the fly that “loves birds”, poses a risk to Finches on Galapagos Islands: here.

Galapagos pink iguana on film

Galapagos pink land iguana

From the Bangkok Post in Thailand:

Galapagos pink iguana captured on film

Published: 1/01/2013 at 11:46 AM

Veteran British nature broadcaster David Attenborough is to show the first filmed sighting of the rare pink iguana, in a television series on the Galapagos Islands which begins Tuesday.

The 86-year-old filmed the rare Conolophus marthae iguana in June last year for his new series “Galapagos 3D”, which goes out on Britain’s Sky television.

It was only identified as a separate species in recent years and it will be the first time the creature has been seen on screen.

It was filmed on the island of Isabela in the volcanic Ecuadoran archipelago in the Pacific Ocean.

“It was a privilege to see it,” said Attenborough.

“It’s a remarkable thing in this day and age when you think about the number of scientists per square metre in the Galapagos, and yet suddenly we have discovered a new species.

“A little periwinkle or something which nobody has identified before is one thing, but this is more than that: it’s a large, pink iguana.”

Series executive producer Geffen added: “When he finally came face-to-face with the iguana it was just one of the most extraordinary moments that I’ve ever experienced: here was the world’s greatest naturalist coming face-to-face with a new species.

“In the footsteps of Charles Darwin but almost 200 years later, David Attenborough was capturing the rare species on film for the first time.”

Attenborough celebrated 60 years with the BBC last year in a career that has seen him win many awards and the respect of the scientific community.

See also here.

Sir David Attenborough believes his type of wildlife shows may cease to be made the day he retires: here.

Galapagos islands exhibition in Switzerland

This video is called Galapagos: the finches (4/7).

From the Universität Zürich in Switzerland:

Tour the Galapagos Islands in Zurich


Galapagos, the completely isolated volcanic islands in the Pacific, can be explored right here on your doorstep from December 11. The University of Zurich Zoological Museum has dedicated its new special exhibition to this small archipelago so important for evolutionary theory. Armed with a guide, visitors travel around the Galapagos Islands, where they learn about its unique flora and fauna.

Once a refuge for pirates and a supply station for whalers, today the Galapagos Islands are an eldorado for nature lovers and biologists. Probably the most famous biologist of them all, Charles Darwin, made observations in the Galapagos that would later convince him that species can develop through natural selection; a revolutionary insight.

Visitors to the special exhibition Galápagos travel from one island to the next via the exhibits, learning about Darwin’s little world within itself. They can explore the extraordinary animal and plant world and find out how biologists from the University of Zurich conduct research on the Galapagos Archipelago while pursuing nature conservation.

Endemites: witnesses to evolution

The Galapagos Islands are teeming with species that do not exist anywhere else, so-called endemites. The ancestors of these plants and animals came from the South-American mainland 1,000 kilometers across the sea. Only a few animals made it: some invertebrates, birds and reptiles, very few mammals and no amphibians. In their new home, they adapted to a different diet, climate and habitat. For instance, visitors to the exhibition learn about iguanas that feed on algae on the seabed, finches that peck at seabirds until they bleed or huge giant tortoises.

Tame but still stressed

All visitors are impressed by the how tame the animals on the Galapagos Islands are. Because there were no people, dogs, cats or other predatory mammals there for millions of years, the animals in the archipelago lost their flight instinct in the course of evolution, which had dire consequences for some species. Even though the animals do not run away from humans and land predators, they are still stressed, as is demonstrated to exhibition-goers with a frigate bird, whose heart beats faster and faster the closer they get to him.

Nature conservation and research

The plants and animals introduced and a population boom threaten the unique environment of the Galapagos Islands. Nature conservation and research are tackling this threat, such as by introducing conservation programs for the giant tortoises, rat control measures to protect the Galapagos albatross or resettling the endangered mockingbirds.

The latter is a project conducted by biologists from the University of Zurich. To protect the first UNESCO World Heritage natural site successfully, public interest, research and nature conservation are essential. Thats why and because the Galapagos Islands are so important in the history of the natural sciences we are devoting an exhibition to them, explains Head of the Zoological Museum Marianne Haffner.

Only through a broad understanding of the singularity of the Galapagos Islands will the archipelago survive for generations to come, adds Curator Lukas Keller. The idea is thus to show special exhibition at other museums and stimulate enthusiasm for the extraordinary world of the Galapagos.

Special exhibition Galápagos

Opening times:
December 11, 2012 until September 8, 2013, Tuesday to Friday: 9 am 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday: 10 am 5 pm, closed Monday.

Opening times over the Christmas period:
Dec. 24 and 25: closed
Dec. 26: 10 am 5 pm
Dec 27 and 28: 9 am 5 pm
Dec. 29 and 30: 10 am 5 pm
Dec. 31 and Jan. 1: closed

Family workshop (free) every Sunday from 2 4 pm: Galápagos einfach Reise zu den verwunschenen Inseln with an exciting tour of the special exhibition and twelve research tasks for the whole family.

Group tours on request:

Guide to the special exhibition: CHF 15 in the museum shop

Entrance is free.

Zoologisches Museum der Universität Zürich
Karl Schmid-Strasse 4
8006 Zürich
Tel. +41 44 634 38 38

Galapagos conservationists use poison to fight invading rats: here.

Galapagos tortoises migration

This BBC video is called The Galápagos Tortoise.

From the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Germany:

27 November 2012

Galapagos tortoises are a migrating species

This press release is available in German.

The Galapagos giant tortoise, one of the most fascinating species of the Galapagos archipelago, treks slowly and untiringly across the volcanic slopes. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Radolfzell, together with the Charles Darwin Foundation, have used GPS technology and modern 3D acceleration measurements to find out that especially the dominant male tortoise wanders up to 10 kilometres into the highlands of the island. Only the fully grown animals migrate, the young tortoises stay year round in the lowlands. The reason for this and the question of why the animals don’t rest during the dry season are not known yet.

Even Charles Darwin anticipated that the giant tortoises wandered large distances. In the cool dry season, the highlands of Santa Cruz are engulfed in fog which allows the vegetation to grow despite the lack of rain. In the lowlands, however, there is no thick layer of clouds and the tortoises’ vegetation is not available year round. Adults, which can weigh up to 250 kilogram, spend the dry season in the higher regions at an elevation of 400 meters above sea level. However, since the food is not as nutritious there, they trek back to the lower zones where there is succulent vegetation in abundance as soon as the rainy season begins.

In order to study the migratory pattern more closely, Stephen Blake from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and his colleague Washington Tapia from the Galapagos National Park secured GPS loggers with 3D acceleration monitors onto 17 adult tortoises. This allowed the scientists to determine the animals’ exact position and behaviour over a period of two years. In order to gather information on the entire population, the researchers noted the size, sex and location of each tortoise they met on their monthly hikes along the volcanic hillsides. They combined the GPS data with the temperature data and information about availability of vegetation.

The results show that the tortoises have a partial migration system, where not every individual migrates. Only the adult animals wander and only the larger specimens are more likely to move. In June they start their slow, tedious march which can be up to ten kilometres long into the highlands. Adult females remain in the lowlands until they lay their eggs and then they also make their way to the highlands. In contrast, the smaller tortoises stay in the lower elevated areas all year round.

Although giant tortoises are able to survive for up to one year without nourishment, which made them a popular staple for seamen, they nevertheless wander for large distances searching for food as this study shows for the first time. Why don’t they just look for a shelter? The question of why the younger animals don’t migrate hasn’t been answered by the scientists yet. “Either the energy expenditure of this strenuous hike is too high, or there is still enough food available for the smaller animals.” Stephen Blake suspects, “perhaps the younger animals can’t tolerate the wet cold climate of the higher regions.”

In other species, the largest and the most dominant individual does not migrate because it can best defend itself against its competitors. It doesn’t have to leave to survive. However, among the Galapagos tortoises, it’s usually the largest and most dominant individual which takes on this arduous journey.

Future studies on giant tortoise species of the other Galapagos Islands with varying ecological conditions will show how environment influences the migration scheme of these closely related reptiles. The scientists also want to include factors such as age, size, sex and morphology in their studies to see why the behaviour changes in different lifetime stages and what the trigger of migration is.

Despite the threat of hunting, invasive species such as goats and rats, and the loss of habitat due to man, the Galapagos Tortoise still shows its original migrating behaviour. This and future studies will help to maintain this behaviour with the help of effective measures such as establishing corridors, preserving key habitats, keeping tortoise-friendly roads and maintaining less urban development. Based on its importance to the Galapagos Archipelago ecosystem as an herbivore and seed disperser, the annual migration of the tortoise must be preserved.

See also here.