Santa Cruz Island

Sep 12, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II

The island of several names, Indefatigable, Santa Cruz, Chavez, Porter, it is also an island rich in stories, some about people and many about successful conservation efforts.

The Norwegians were the very first trying to make a living on Santa Cruz; they founded Puerto Ayora in 1927. We had then Ecuadorians from the coast and highlands, a few families from Germany, Belgium, and from all around the world. Today this is a very cosmopolitan town of more than twenty thousand people.

Academy bay, shaped like a horseshoe, welcomed us early in the morning. Looking from the ship, to the left, there is a sheer cliff, with a few houses; underneath there is a fissure that is lost into the mangroves to become las Ninfas lagoon. To the right, the town, with lovely houses and several 4-store buildings that arose in the last ten years. There are coconut palms, colorful streets and native trees along the roads, making it look pretty and alive. What can be more animated than the fishermen’s market? This is one of the highlights for our visitors, where you see fair and peaceful interactions between wildlife and people. Sea lions and pelicans share the site with buyers, tourists and fishermen, all busy minding their own businesses, but respectful of each other. A great example of the harmony one feels in the Galapagos in between the natural world and humans.

This is the island for tortoises. We found them at the National Park Tortoise Breeding Center and in the highlands. Many baby tortoises will be repatriated soon to their home islands, increasing the numbers of these emblematic species all around the archipelago. We are proud and happy every time we witness the progress with conservation efforts. The highlands were green and covered by these legendary creatures, which unaware of our presence kept feeding on the vegetation. It was a lovely day!

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Gianna Haro and Paula Tagle

Gianna Haro and Paula Tagle

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