1 The Galapagos beaches are pristine. The archipelago is made up of 61-islands and islets - all surrounding the equator. In 1978, UNESCO designated the Galapagos as the first World Heritage site.
2 Our plane landed in San Cristobal, the fifth largest and easternmost island in the Galápagos archipelago.
3 Our flight from Quito to San Cristobal took two and a half hours.
4 My grandson, Truman, didn't want to get off the plane when we arrived, so our plane's captain sat down and talked to him - all in Spanish, of course.
5 These sea lions were swimming just below the dock as we waited to board our ship, the Evolution. The Galapagos sea lion is a common mammal in the islands and is endemic to the archipelago.
6 This is the Evolution, a 192-foot cruise ship and expedition vessel. Bolivar Sanchez is the head naturalist guide on our trip - he was very knowledgable.
7 This was the first skyline of our journey. It reminded me of the old mariner's rhyme used as a rule of thumb for forecasting the weather, "Red sky at night, sailors' delight. Red sky at morning, sailors' take warning." Jude and Truman loved that rhyme.
8 There's Kicker Rock, also known locally as "Leon Dormido" meaning Sleeping Lion. It is the remains of a volcanic cone that was eroded by the sea. It is a popular nesting site for hundreds of frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies.
9 This was the first evening of our seven-day voyage. Here is a silhouette of Jude, Truman, and their nannies, Ken and Laura.
10 Here is my silhouette with the beautiful skyline behind me.
11 And, here's another photo - this time using the camera's flash.
12 Here are Jude, Truman, and our friend, Max, looking out at the beautiful sea.
13 Here is a closer view of Kicker Rock. The rock formation towers over 500-feet above the Pacific Ocean. When seen from the south, it looks like a sleeping lion. When viewed from the north, it looks more like a boot, hence its name, Kicker Rock.
14 The next day, we went out on the open ocean to snorkel around Mosquera islet and Punta Carrion. Jude and Truman love swimming, and had so much fun.
15 Here are Alexis and Jude snorkeling and swimming together. Both Jude and Truman are excellent swimmers, so they also swam around by themselves.
16 Here are Jude and Truman after their snorkeling session. Jude has on the cutest red wet suit with big black spots.
17 That is the Evolution in the distance, waiting as we all enjoyed snorkeling at Mosquera Islet.
18 Here is another view of our ship, the Evolution. It's a beautiful 655-ton vessel with three-suites, and 13-staterooms. On our trip, there were 29-guests on board with up to 18-crew members, two guides, a doctor and a cruise director.
19 On our second full day we visited James Bay on Santiago Island. Here we saw the Galapagos fur seal, a cousin of the sea lion. Fur seals prefer more rugged, rockier, and shadier shores than sea lions. They are also smaller, with broader, shorter heads, and grayish-brown coats.
20 Galapagos fur seals are among the smallest of the Otariidae family. Males weigh up to 140-pounds while adult females average about 60-pounds. They spend about 70-percent of their lives on land and are nocturnal hunters that feed on squid and fish.
21 There were many stone cliffs - this is Prince Phillip's Steps in the northern island of Genovesa, also known as Tower Island.
22 This is a male Frigatebird. All frigate birds have predominantly black plumage, long, deeply forked tails and long hooked bills, but the males have a distinctive red gular pouch, which they inflate during mating season to attract females.
23 Here is another male Frigatebird with its blown up throat pouch. To woo the female, the male Frigatebird also squawks loudly as potential mates pass overhead.
24 Here are two adult Frigatebirds - a male with the red pouch, and an interested female behind him.
25 And this is a male Frigatebird with a deflated pouch.
26 There are two species of Frigatebird in the Galapagos. The Great Frigatebird can be identified by the metallic-green feathers on the back.
27 I took these underwater photos with my Nikon-1 AW1 waterproof, shockproof, and freeze proof camera. Alexis also took some wonderful photos using her IPhone 6S Plus.
28 This is North Seymour Island - it is covered with low, bushy vegetation. It's a great spot for birdwatching and picture-taking. These are Nazca booby birds.
29 The Nazca booby, Sula granti, is the largest of all the boobies on the Galapagos and the only booby species without colored feet.
30 The head and body of the Nazca booby are almost entirely white, except for the tail and the trailing edge of the wing, which are a rich, reddish tinged, chocolate brown.
31 Here is a Nazca booby sitting on a chick. Its bright orange colored beak and eyes are so stunning against the pure white feathers.
32 This is blue-footed booby juvenile. Its plumage is in a transitioning stage from an all white and puffy to a more mature brown and white. The blue coloration in the feet starts to appear at the same time, but takes a few years to fully develop.
33 This adult blue-footed booby has feet colored my favorite shade of blue.
34 A male blue-footed booby has much smaller pupils than its female counterpart. Both males and females take turns with the eggs and the chicks.
35 This male was watching his chick.
36 Here's another booby. It looks as if it's talking to us; however, this is how boobies cool off. They open their beaks and suck air in and out of their lungs.
37 Here's an adult blue-footed booby and a chick. The blue-footed booby usually lays one to three eggs at a time. The eggs laid first are hatched first. If food is scarce, this often means the stronger, elder chick will kill the younger, weaker sibling.
38 This is a red-footed booby chick. Red-footed boobies are the only ones that nest on trees. The blue-footed and Nazca boobies nest on the ground.
39 Look how close we were able to get to this short-eared owl - absolutely no fear. The short-eared owl is mostly mottled brown and buff. Its coloring makes a great camouflage when hiding in the vegetation. If you look closely, this owl is holding his catch.
40 These stunning owls have large round heads, with white-bordered facial discs, and striking yellow eyes framed with black.
41 There are very strict rules for visiting the Galapagos Islands. Among them, no one can feed or touch the animals - that's why they're not afraid - no human has hurt them or given them a reason to be fearful.
42 I love this beautiful profile of my daughter, Alexis.
43 This is a Santa Fe Island land iguana - generally pale, whitish to dark brown in color, and often with large dark brown blotches on its back.
44 Here's a closeup of this magnificent reptile. The land iguana is found away from the shoreline, and can be very territorial - males will engage in head-butting battles to protect its space.
45 Here is another spectacular photo of a land iguana, with its striking colors and markings.
46 This is a Galapagos green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas, with algae on its shell. Their shells are lighter and more streamlined than those of the Galapagos tortoise. Their front and rear limbs have evolved into flippers making them strong swimmers, capable of swimming up to 35-miles per hour.
47 Green sea turtles are named for the green color of its fat. These turtles are almost entirely marine, and go ashore primarily to lay eggs.
48 These are Galapagos sea lions, a common mammal in the islands that is endemic to the archipelago. Galapagos sea lions are often found sun-bathing on shores, such as Darwin's Bay Beach on Genovese Island.
49 When wet, sea lions are a shade of dark brown, but once dry, their color varies from chestnut to lighter shades of brown.
50 Sea lions are very curious, social and vocal animals. They're fun to watch because of their very playful natures.
51 Here I am making believe I am a Galapagos sea lion.
52 Jude and Truman wanted to go into the water wherever we went, but some beaches did not allow swimming, so they went as close as they could.
53 Six endemic species of prickly pear cacti can be found in the Galapagos, but all have paddle shaped leaves. Tall varieties thrive on islands where there are giant tortoises. The cacti are consumed by land iguanas, tortoises, doves, finches and mockingbirds.
54 Here is another prickly pear cactus, Opuntia echios var. barringtonensis. Opuntia cactus is the only source of fresh water for land iguanas. They can wait for up to a full week under one until a pear falls.
55 I think this land iguana is smiling at us.
56 This is the famous Floreana Island Mail Box at Post Office Bay. Used since the 18th Century, whalers to tourists have been dropping off mail here - no stamp needed. Travelers just drop off their letters and postcards and pick-up ones addressed to their hometowns to deliver by hand when they get home. Of course, we also tried it.
57 This is the beautiful landscape on Floreana Island, near the Post Office Bay.
58 The Galapagos beaches are big and beautiful and with the most interesting colored sand - white sand has pure coral, red sand has iron and black sand has pure lava. This Floreana Island beach has a combination of coral and lava which is why it is not entirely white, but so, so stunning.
59 Here's another look at Floreana Island. Floreana was named after Juan Jose Flores, the first president of Ecuador, during whose administration the government of Ecuador took possession of the entire archipelago.
60 Here, flamingoes feed in a shallow lagoon beneath the rise of a volcanic mountain on Floreana Island.
61 This is a pair of white cheeked pintail ducks on the same Flamingo lagoon on Floreana Island.
62 Sally Lightfoot crabs adds a splash of scarlet red to many Galapagos shorelines - we saw them on numerous rock formations. The Sally Lightfoot crab is a brightly colored coastal scavenger, found in the Galapagos and across the western coast of South and Central America.
63 This is Cormorant Point on Floreana Island - so beautiful.
64 This is another angle taken of Cormorant Point, with more flamingos looking for shrimp in the water. Other birds that can be seen here include stilts, large-billed flycatchers, and several species of finch.
65 Another look at Floreana Island's Cormorant Point. Cormorant Point has a greater diversity of plants than most other areas.
66 This is a Striated heron, also known as a mangrove heron, little heron or green-backed heron.
67 This is a red mangrove estuary - mangroves are shrubs or small trees that grow in coastal saline or brackish water.
68 Another beautiful skyline in the Galapagos - they're all so beautiful.