Dominique Navarro is at Imprenta Mariscal, Quito, Ecuador this week for the press check and printing of “Growing Up Galapagos” Children’s Book commissioned by Celebrity Cruises. Written by Celebrity naturalist, Dr. Ellen Prager with illustrations by Dawn N. Ericson. Editing, map illustration, and a few of the many photographs by Dominique Navarro. Published by Manta Publications.
A sighting of a Green Sea Turtle is a common, almost daily occurrence around the Galapagos Islands. One reason, I am guessing, is the huge number of resident Green Sea Turtles of all ages. We saw adults bobbing about off shore, females nesting on sandy inlets, hatching racing for the sea in morning’s light with Frigate birds circling overhead, we saw groups gatherings in the clear shallow lagoons and many “platter size” juveniles residing in the shelter of the vast mangrove tree root habitats.
It is overwhelming! How many times can you yell with unexpected excitement, “SEA TURTLE”?
The answer: every Sea Turtle sighting- forever.
Land Iguana, Conolophus subcristatus
Marine Iguna, Amblyrhynchus cristatus
I have seen iguanas, in trees, on isolated mountains, in deserts, in pet stores and as escape artists- strolling down a city highway. BUT, to witness the world’s only sea-going lizard seems crazy until you witness the Marine Iguana’s swimming stroke. Having a long powerful tail, it dives off the lava rocks and into the water with a whip-tail action that creates wavy surface waves. Then, it plunges under the waves and disappears. All Iguanas are somewhat friendly and always awesome to meet.
Blue-footed Booby, Sula nebouxii
The Galapagos Islands are home to three species of iconic and zany appearing long-winged seabirds. The very special Blue-footed Booby greets visitors and possible mates with brightly colored turquoise feet, high stepping footwork and clown-like gestures. Their raucous like grunts and whistling noises are all part of displays for attention. And it works, as these fearless birds are extremely memorable even to a passing human!
Another notable characteristic for the Blue-footed Booby is its long thick bill with permanently closed nostrils, which enables the to bird fish by diving headlong into the water. They breath through the corners of its mouth.
Meeting a Blue-footed Booby is most likely in the Galapagos, as they seem to find you before you look for them.
Darwin’s Lake, title page.
Isabela Island, Tagus Cove, Darwin’s Lake.
Isabela Island is the largest of all the islands, and greater in size than all of the other Galapagos Islands combined. Tagus Cove located on the northwestern side of the Isabela Island was once a sheltered anchorage for pirates, buccaneers and whalers. The name Tagus comes from an English war ship that passed by the islands in 1814 looking for giant tortoises. Charles Darwin, who wrote the On the Origin of Species, visited Tagus Cove in 1835.
A short, steep hike from the Tagus Cove presents a specular view point of Darwin’s Lake. The lake appears like as a volcano crater filled with dark water, but is geologically called a tuff cone. It is approximately 30 ft or 9 m deep and filled with salt water. Surrounded hills are a forest of Palo Santo Trees, Bursera gravelens, that quickly change to dead looking branches during the dry season in this arid zone.
After a short and heavy rain, flowers bloom and birds sing as Darwin’s lake appears like a lush garden adjacent to the Giant Prickly Pear Cactus, Opuntia echios var.inermis. Occasional land iguana or giant tortoise can be observed climbing the rugged trails.
The Galapagos Cotton, Gossypium barbadense var, darwinii, a shrub, blooms with the largest flower on any native or endemic plant in Galapagos. It’s busting seed provided “cotton” used by ground and tree finches and other small birds to use in their nest.
The Acacia tree, with intimidating thorns, is the nesting sites for the Galapagos Mockingbird, Mimus paruvlus. This nest may serve to incubate another clutch if heavy rains continue. Mockingbirds are a very social species and often stay together as a growing and flourishing family.
A zodiac ride along the cove’s steep lava cliffs may give another encounter; Flightless Cormorants or a family of nesting penguins.
MAP of Galapagos Islands- Inside book covers
The isolated location of the Galápagos Islands, a archipelago of volcanic islands prevents spontaneous travel but rewards those who venture land, air and sea to witness one of the world’s most unusual ecosystems. Located 575 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galápagos Island are a national park and a biological marine reserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Galápagos Marine Reserve is one of the largest reserve in the world.
Our adventure to Galapagos begins with the iconic panorama of Bartolome. From the viewpoint of another soaring Galapagos Hawk, Buteo galapagoensis the image focused on a few privileged zodiac traveler approaching a desolate sandy cove. A flaming female Lava Lizard, Microlophus albemarlensis basks in the morning glow while snacking on its favorite, the tiny white flowers of the ancient and rare Gray Matplant, Tiquilia nesiotica a perennial herb of the Santiago, Islets.
This wonderful and unique book project is an unforgettable journey. Galapagos, with abundance of endemic flora and fauna, so extraordinary that finding creative illustration compositions for this 32 page children’s picture book is like picking from a exclusive selection of gems. So many zany animal characters, complex vistas, azure waters with wild lagoons, shadowy rocky volcano zones and ever-changing specular skies. This is truly a natural history illustrator’s ultimate assignment!
Commission by Celebrity Cruises to celebrate 10 years of charting the archipelagos, and working with author and Celebrity’s superb naturalist, Dr. Ellen Prager this book will be printed in Ecuador by Imprente Marsical in 2014. Published by MANTA Publications.
Please join us on this unforgettable blog journey as we illustrate and produce this
book page to page.