Fernandina and Isabela Islands
After navigating all throughout the night, we reached the western isles of the Galápagos. These are considered the most remote and pristine islands, as well as the youngest areas of the archipelago. As dawn broke, we could see the elegant outline of the shield volcanoes of both Isabela and Fernandina Islands. The National Geographic Endeavour dropped anchor at Punta Espinosa, on the northeastern tip of Fernandina. This was to be our morning excursion; a first impression of the coastline, could make one think that the place is totally devoid of life. Black, jagged lava rocks are present everywhere, and there is definitely a lack of water and vegetation. Fernandina is simply too young, having been totally resurfaced in the last five thousand years. Therefore, its biodiversity is rather low, albeit extremely interesting. Upon landing, we started encountering the most abundant inhabitant of Fernandina: the marine iguanas. These endemic and unique creatures have undergone fantastic adaptations in order to survive in such a harsh environment, and they have become extremely efficient at obtaining the seaweed that is the main part of their diet. Further inland we found several tidal pools and a rocky shoreline covered in ulva, or sea lettuce, which make this area a rich foraging grounds for sea turtles, of which we observed dozens if not hundreds. Another inhabitant of the shoreline of Fernandina is the flightless cormorant, and we were lucky enough to find an active nesting couple, already rearing two healthy-looking chicks. Punta Espinosa is rich in beautiful volcanic features, like the pahoehoe or ropy-surfaced lavas, and from the trail we could admire La Cumbre, the summit of Fernandina, a shield volcano with the shape of an overturned soup bowl.
After our morning activities, we had to leave this idyllic place that seems to have been forgotten by time, and during midday we navigated towards Punta Vicente Roca, on the northern coast of Isabela Island. Read More>
Aug 22, 2016
National Geographic Endeavour