Hungry pelicans at Galapagos fish market swarm generous fishermen
The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the most diverse and fascinating life on the planet. These islands are very new in geological terms, having emerged from the ocean due to volcanic eruptions 400 million years ago. Barren and lifeless, they were simply chunks of cooled lava until the surface changed over many years to support the first plants. They were followed long after by sea birds and then animals that found their way there on rafts of floating vegetation. Very slowly, the islands became home to many species of plants and animals, cut off from the rest of the world by the great distance from other land masses.
Life here on the islands has evolved on its own line, with animals adapting to long periods of drought and hardship. They have developed unique traits and physical characteristics that were important for the survival of the species.
The people of the Galapagos understand and respect the delicate balance of nature in this world. They exist in harmony with the animals and interfere as little as possible. They encourage others to respect this as well, and tourists are gently reminded to let nature take care of its own. But the pelicans are one of the exceptions. Large, strong birds with few predators, they have little fear of the humans who bring in their morning catch of fish and lobster. They pelicans have learned that there might be scraps and entrails to be had when the boats come in to the harbour.
This fish market on Santa Cruz is a popular destination for tourists and also for the locals. The pelicans are not the only creatures looking for a free meal. Marine iguanas, giant frigates, herons, and also sea lions patrol the sidewalk and areas around the counter as the fishermen cut the fish and get it ready for sale. Locals come for the opportunity of a fresh purchase, and also for the entertainment as the animals gather in great numbers.
Throwing the entrails in the garbage and taking them to the landfill will result in scavengers getting their meals there. It makes just as much sense to toss the waste in the direction of the eager and hungry mob of animals at the counter. The pelicans scramble to move out of the way as people walk through, but they quickly line up again, salivating and keeping a sharp eye on the fish.
As the pelicans are tossed a large chunk by the generous fisherman, they squawk in what sounds much like comical human laughter. While in the Galapagos Islands, a trip to the fish market is an absolute must, especially with a camera.