Dec 07, 2017 - National Geographic Islander

We woke up to a beautiful morning! The ocean was calm, the winds weak, and the sky sunny as we enjoyed our early day excursion.  After breakfast we had a dry landing on the island of South Plaza. Once on this small island, we were able to spot several of the Galapagos land iguanas in their natural habitat.  Some of the iguanas were eating the pads of prickly pear cactus while others were basking under the equatorial sun.

The island holds one of the most stunning landscapes, contrasting the red from the endemic succulent plants, the green from the cacti, and blue from the shallow coastal waters. This island is the result of an uplifting, the rise of the ocean floor. It is incredible to think that the bottom of the ocean floor rose above the sea level and today, this is the natural habitat for some endemic land species.

After the hike we had a talk on the human history of the Galapagos islands. We learned all about the first colonizers of the Galapagos, through the present condition of the archipelago. What an incredible way to travel back in time through the photographic scenery shown during the talk.

After lunch we had the opportunity to kayak along the coast of Santa Fe Island. By then, the National Geographic Islander had already repositioned to Santa Fe Island and left South Plaza behind. While some of us went kayaking, others decided to go snorkeling inside the cove of Santa Fe. During the snorkeling outing we were able to see a school of eagle rays, several Pacific green sea turtle, sea lions, and a large variety of fish.

We returned to the ship to suit up for a late afternoon hike into the wilderness of Santa Fe to look for the endemic Santa Fe land iguana.  We were lucky to spot about 6 of these rare specimens. These iguanas are only found on this island, nowhere else on earth.  Some of us were lucky to see the endemic Santa Fe rice rat, a seed eating rodent that inhabits this island.

We came back to the ship after an incredible day exploring the enchanted islands. 

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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. He earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of Florida and later spent time in Europe, where he learned French. He is now fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

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