For a full year (1989-1990,) I worked as a naturalist/guide in the Galapagos Islands. I lived aboard the 90-passenger cruise ship Galapagos Explorer, which made a continuous circuit of the islands on a weekly basis.


The Galapagos Explorer, several snoozing sea lions, and me in guide uniform on Rábida Island.

I was one of seven guides who worked on the GE (and one of only about 20 working on the islands at any one time). Our jobs were a combination of naturalist, tour guide and park ranger, taking groups of up to 20 passengers each to visit the islands, usually two sites per day. We had to maintain a vast wealth of knowledge about the ecology, biology, geology, climatology, oceanography and history of the islands.

The Galapagos Islands are an active volcanic island chain located 1000 km west of Ecuador. They lie in the path of several key currents that pass along the North and South American Pacific shores. These currents have occasionally carried hardy animals to the island shores, often on rafts of vegetation. This has resulted in a strange ecology that combines numerous diverse species, such as flamingos and penguins. Living conditions in the islands are harsh and predation is low, resulting in species that have lost much of their sense of fear. Consequently, visitors to the islands can approach most of the animals to remarkably close ranges.

Below is a video of what it was like to be a guide in the Galapagos Islands, along with most of the far too few (alas) photos I took during that time (click on the photo thumbnails to view the full-sized images):