Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Nov 28, 2017 - National Geographic Islander


We awoke early and those who stayed on deck right up until breakfast was announced saw a Bryde’s whale! We crossed the equatoras as we rounded the northern end of the sea horse shaped island of Isabela, and then took to the Zodiacs for an hour of exploration along the coast. We saw our first flightless cormorants and penguins. Later, three Zodiacs full of eager snorkelers braved the chilly, but clear water and what an amazing experience we had! Where else on our planet can one swim and snorkel with two species of flightless birds (we swam with both cormorants and penguins!), over a hundred sea turtles, playful sea lions, a manta ray, and a dozen species of colorful fish - in a one hour outing!?

The afternoon hike on the pahoehoe lava fields of the youngest of these islands, Fernandina, was just as impressive. There were hordes of marine iguanas, baby sea lions, cormorants, a scorpion, and a racer snake – literally an explosion of life on what, from a distance, looked like barren lava. The sun set in a blaze of oranges and pinks behind the massive shield volcano and darkness descended quickly, as it does here on the equator.

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About the Author

Lynn Fowler

Expedition Leader

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and one of seven children, Lynn grew up in various university towns where her father was a professor of physics. Lynn obtained her B.A. in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, followed by a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida, which encompassed a study of marine turtles in Costa Rica. She arrived in Galápagos in 1978 and became one of the first female naturalist guides working for the Galápagos National Park.

About the Photographer

Jason Heilmann

Expedition Leader

Growing up in northern California, Jason was surrounded by the incomparable nature of the Pacific Northwest. While attending university there, Jason met and eventually married an Ecuadorian woman who happened to be from a small group of islands off the coast of western South America. It was thus that Jason’s path led him to Ecuador and, in time, to one of the most revered natural environments on earth, the Galápagos Islands.

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