Our adventure began today on the spectacular island of Genovesa, also known by the English name of “Tower.” Just before 6:00 a.m., our ship dropped anchor at Darwin’s Bay, the huge submerged caldera of this dormant volcano, where an overwhelming seabird experience was waiting for us.
Hundreds of frigate birds, red-footed boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, storm petrels, red billed tropicbirds, and yellow crowned night herons were everywhere. This is a sea bird paradise.
Our morning experience started with a walk at the famous Prince Philip’s Steps, where a narrow trail took us near Nazca, red-footed boobies and frigate birds. Some birds were courting, others were incubating eggs and still others were taking care of their babies. We witnessed the peculiar behavior of the baby Nazca boobies, killing the younger siblings, a behavior not quite fully understood even by scientists.
Then, we saw the young great frigate birds perching on their nests with the sole intention of being fed by their parents.
On the cliff facing the open ocean, thousands of storm petrels were feeding and were watched carefully by the inquisitive and silent short eared owls, so well camouflaged that it was difficult to spot them immediately.
After the hike, we all went back onboard, some to rest, some to pack, but many to experience the last snorkel of the week, this time to find sharks, rays, turtles and new species of fish.
After a departure briefing and lunch, we had more activities: a kayak outing along the cliff of this impressive caldera and then a wet landing at Darwin’s Beach, a white coral sand beach where it was even easier to photograph the swallow tailed gulls, the red footed boobies courting, some male frigate birds, young Nazca boobies, and the always funny-looking yellow crown night herons.
A beautiful way to finish an intensive but educational week, where hundreds of questions were answered to better understand our fragile ecosystem and thousands of pictures were taken with the good advice of our team of experts, our National Geographic certified photo instructors.