By Sven-Olof Lindblad
On our second morning here in the Galápagos, we woke in the Bolivar Channel to a flat calm sea. This is one of the richest marine environments in the Galápagos and it was not a surprise when our expedition leader announced the sighting of whales and dolphins. We hung around with them for an hour or so. They were moving erratically and so we couldn’t get great looks. The expedition leader suggested it was a blue whale and calf, which is a rare sighting anywhere.
After breakfast we landed at Punta Espinosa on Fernandina Island, one of the world’s most pristine islands. Dating back to my first visit 50 years ago, it is my absolute favorite site in all of Galápagos. It’s a curious feeling being on a pristine island with no habitation and dominated by one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Lava, sand, mangroves, and cacti make up the land that supports a remarkable array of life, at least as seen at the one visitor landing site.
It was low tide when we landed and there was a mass migration of marine iguanas marching into the sea. Hundreds of them as if they were being called to a mission. It’s a practical idea, low tide exposes some of the algae they like, and when diving for more they don’t have to go so far. Everyone is enthralled by these prehistoric looking creatures—particularly the kids.
Of course the show stoppers are the sea lions—a patrolling bull offshore, mothers and babies, a curious lone juvenile whose mother has gone out to fish. No end of antics and no end of oh’s and ah’s. Then off for a hike through the lava. Once you leave the shoreline it’s all lava of different ages and different forms. Every now and then a stand of cacti and the occasional shrub that somehow has taken root. It’s oddly beautiful, we even see a small inland lake fed by underground tunnels, with one lone large grouper in it. We all speculate as to how it got there and if it was now stuck. A mystery that will have to be solved the next time the National Geographic Endeavour II returns.