Palomino Islands in Peru

Callao is the seaport for Lima, Peru and one of the main fishing and commercial ports in the country.  For our first day in Callao (Lima) we chose to take the Wildlife-Lover’s Paradise trip. We were delayed leaving the ship for our excursion because the fog was too dense, but finally the port authorities gave us permission to head toward the marina where we transferred to a speedboat that took us out to the Palomino Islands.
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On our boat ride out of the harbor to the rocky islands, we saw numerous birds and local fishermen plying the waters near the islands. The islands exhibit a variety of scenery, sandy slopes, and irregular dark-colored rocks that rise out of the ocean in many shapes and forms.

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Guano covers the rocky slopes on the Islands making them appear as though they are snow covered in this tropical desert area. Every seven to eight years the national government hires workers from the Andes to come to the Islands to scrape and collect the accumulated guano.   Ultimately it is mixed with fishmeal and used as organic fertilizer for the crops up in the highlands and other areas.  The last time it was collected, the Peruvian government made over $80,000,000 on the process.

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On a couple of the islands we saw Humboldt penguins. The penguins had several chicks about to fledge but we did not see any in the water.IMG_6154

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The other major inhabitants of the Islands are sea lions (thousands of them).  The penguins and the sea lions live in complete safety, as there are no predators in the area.  We enjoyed seeing the sea lions play, swim, jump and dive around us.  One of the young sea lions took a starfish up onto the rocks and several of them played with it tossing it in the air and snatching it from each other.

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Three of the people on the trip went into the water and swam and photographed the sea lions.  The sea lions showed no fear of the swimmers or the boat in fact quite a large group followed our boat as we left the area and headed back to port.  They were various curious animals and would also approach the divers very closely and occasionally touch or nibble on them. The videographer from the ship, who was one who swam with them, was warned not to get too close to the cliffs as a seal lion might land on her if it jumped into the water.  A jellyfish that was swimming in the area did sting her on the foot however.

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We had lots of fun seeing the penguins and sea lions cavorting, but had to get back to the ship as the fog was beginning to roll back in towards the harbor.

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One Response to “Palomino Islands in Peru”

  1. Christine Smith Hecht January 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Mary Jane, you look like you are having a great time and are taking some fabulous pictures! Thanks for sharing your voyage, my love to Barb also . I’ll keep checking on you girls! Christine Smith Hecht

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