Isabela Island: Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove

Nov 29, 2017 - National Geographic Islander

Today we visited Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove on Isabella Island. In the morning we landed at Urbina Bay at the base of Alcedo Volcano.  Urbina Bay was uplifted from the sea floor in 1954. Large coral heads, shells, and eroded rocks are part of the evidence of this dramatic event that we observed today.

As we walked along the path we found four land tortoises endemic to Alcedo. This volcano holds the largest populations of these reptiles (8000 individuals approximately). We also spotted two males of the Galapagos land iguana as well as a female vermillion flycatcher, Darwin cotton, and the apple and muyuyo trees.

In the afternoon we sailed to Tagus Cove, a site that was visited by Charles Darwin in 1835. He spent a day here and was amazed by the geology of the site, particularly the tuff cones that formed Darwin and Beagle Lake. Kayakers and paddle boarders observed penguins, brown pelicans nesting, and flightless cormorants.

Deep-water snorkelers observed different species of marine algae, typical of cold nutrient rich waters, as well as penguins, flightless cormorants, and some fish species that are more abundant in the western part of the archipelago. These species include the harlequin wrasse, the Galapagos horn shark, and the rusty damselfish.

Finally we hiked up to see Darwin Lake and the recent lava flows that emerged from Darwin Volcano.

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About the Author

Luis Vinueza


Luis arrived in the Galápagos Islands for the first time when he was 11 years old in 1983, and from that time on he knew that Galápagos would one day be his home. He returned to the islands in 1995 and spent 14 months camping in a tent. Seven of those months were spent on Española Island, studying the relationship of reproductive success and mate retention of Nazca boobies. In 1997, he started working for the marine lab at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) on different fields including diving surveys to assess the patterns of marine biodiversity around the Galápagos Marine Reserve. His research included counting lobsters and sea cucumbers and participating as an advisor for CDRS during the negotiation process that led to the 1998 creation of the Galápagos Marine Reserve. 

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