From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galápagos

Mar 23, 2012 - National Geographic Endeavour

red-footed booby
yellow crowned heron


Located above the Equator Line this island is the only one open to visitors on the northern side of Galápagos. Volcanically like all in the group it is also the only one whose anchorage is inside the caldera due to a collapse on its side allowing the ocean to get in.

The attractions here are obvious as soon as you arrive, thousands of birds can be found everywhere on the island. The first activities in the morning started at 8 am and included two hikes at two different locations and the groups divided to keep the island and its wildlife without much alteration. The first group of people headed to a place called Prince Phillips Steps for a very interesting hike which highlights are nesting seabirds, among them are the beautiful red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies and frigates that are found here throughout the year and at this time with eggs or rising chicks.

It is incredible to believe that these animals are so tame that groups of people walk by and they do nothing but keep going about their own business. Along the trail there is always the opportunity to come across land birds that also made their way here to become new residents of these remote locations like Galápagos mockingbirds, finches, doves and herons. One that we consider very rare to see in the day is the short eared-owl. Some of us had the chance to see them hunting other birds, found by the thousands, called storm petrels.

The other groups had an easier hike including a wet landing on a small coralline sand beach for the observation of wildlife that doesn’t vary much from the other locations, but has other elements as a combination. Red footed nesting in mangroves along the coast line, others on low bushes, frigates not too far now in the middle of the breeding season in which they inflate their huge red pouches to attract the females that fly around in search of potential males for the selection. Seagulls everywhere, they are so beautiful and differ from others by hunting on squid and flying fish at night.

When the morning hikes finished, we came back on board to change clothes to go back on the Zodiacs for an activity that most of us enjoy, deep water snorkeling. Yes, the waters are so rich in animal life due to a mix of nutrient rich waters coming from the south and warm water from the north. Sharks, different kinds of golden rays, sting rays and sometimes manta rays, tropical fishes and other big and small forms of life live here, some temporally but most permanently. Some people could see hammerheads and a giant school of golden rays which was AWESOME.

This very special adventure on this island was going to conclude with a kayak contest whose participants were guest and crew members, enjoyable from beginning to end the contest had a winning couple from the guest party.

A reunion of guest and crew at the stern of ship for sunset was a very special moment. What a fantastic way to finish an expedition in the Galápagos Islands.

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About the Author

Patricio Maldonado

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands, where his keen interest in the wildlife of the Galápagos was born initially through catching lizards and observing how they lost their tails. His experiences in the islands have led him to teach visitors about the need to protect this rare and unique environment.

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