Hungry pelicans swarm kindly fishermen at Galapagos market
Pelicans are beautiful birds that inhabit most of the tropics, as well as the Galapagos Islands. They are graceful in flight and uniquely adapted to catching fish with their huge beaks and throat pouches. We can't help but be fascinated by them as they fly past along a shoreline, or as they waddle clumsily on land.
These pelicans have learned that the fishermen at this cleaning station and market have a soft spot for the hungry wildlife. They are very capable of lining up with pleading eyes to beg for the scraps as the fish are brought right from the ocean to the counter where they are prepared for sale. The fishermen ignore the birds and go about their work with what appears to be indifference, but the birds know better. And if we watch carefully, we see that there will often be a quick sideways toss or a handful dumped in front of the birds.
At the start of this video, we see three pelicans engaged in a tugging match over some leftovers that they were given. And we see one of the men tossing some skins and guts at the feet of the crowd of pelicans. They wait with incredible patience for a little generosity and they are always rewarded.
We also see one bold pelican taking a stab at the large fish carcass that is carried past him. He admires the fish as it passes right within inches of his beak and he can't help but try to grab a piece before it is gone. But the pelican can't actually eat a meal this large and he seems to easily give up when nothing can be torn off.
The pelicans are not the only ones who flock to this market to see what has been caught. Residents will often gather when the boats come in, eager to see what bounty has been harvested by these hard working men. The residents are also happy to line up for a chance to but some of the fresh catch. Being able to take home fish and lobsters that have only been out of the water for an hour or two is a part of life in the Galapagos islands.
But perhaps the most enthusiastic group at this market is the tourists who consider this market to be an extremely fascinating place. They come here to take photographs of the fish, the people, and the animals that gather for a handout. The market is frequented by pelicans, herons, iguanas, and crabs, but the most entertaining of all is usually the sea lions. These adorable creatures come and sniff the fish until they are shooed away. They cry and plead and try to snatch what they can, much to the delight and amusement of the tourists. In fact, a trip to Santa Cruz Island is not complete without a visit to the fish market.