South Plaza and Santa Fe Island

Sep 28, 2017 - National Geographic Islander


This morning we went on a pre-breakfast outing to explore a small, yet very colorful, island known as South Plaza. After a dry landing, we encountered the natural habitat of the Galápagos land iguanas. Some of these golden dragons were feeding on the fruits of the prickly pear cactus; others were resting within the grottos created as nesting facilities.

The cliffs were mind blowing! Galápagos shearwaters were flying in and out of their nesting grounds while frigate birds and red billed tropic birds soared the sky. What an amazing view of the ocean and wildlife all mixed together.

Along the hike we also encountered a colony of bachelor male sea lions; near the area where some of the swallow-tailed gulls were nesting. The morning was full of colors, birds, reptiles, and mammals. After a fascinating hike on this uplifted island, we returned to our mother vessel to have breakfast. Once on board, we had the opportunity to swim off the ship and cool off in the refreshing Galápagos waters.

During the afternoon, we went snorkeling inside the bay of Santa Fe island, where we spotted a few Pacific sea turtles, eagle rays, sea lions, and a large variety of fish. After exploring the ocean, we went on a hike along the trails of Santa Fe to look for the endemic species of land iguana that is only found on this island and nowhere else on the planet. We spotted a few of the iguanas resting on the basaltic lava rock as well as a very curious young Galápagos hawk who landed right above our heads onto a nearby bush. As we were hiking, we spotted some blows from whales very close to the coast. We closed out the day watching a humpback breaching its body out of the water. We were even able to catch the entire show from land!

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About the Author

Jonathan Aguas

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Jonathan was born into one of only a handful of families that reaches back five generations in Galápagos, in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal Island. He first left the islands when he won a highly-coveted scholarship to finish his studies in the U.S.  This was the start of his life-long passion for science and languages.

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