Sombrero Chino and Sullivan Bay, Santiago Island

Dec 22, 2017 - National Geographic Islander

Today’s expedition took place on and around Santiago Island, we started off the day straight on the water with kayaking and paddle boarding in a beautiful crystal clear blue water channel between Sombrero Chino, a volcanic formation that resembles a giant Chinese hat and a field of lava flow from the 1897 called Sullivan Bay. It was sunny and warm and as we cruised along the coast of the lava flow, Galapagos penguins welcomed us into the channel. They were swimming, feeding and jumping out of the water to warm and dry up on the black lava rocks while posing for our pictures.

After kayaking and paddle boarding the water adventure continued as we jumped in the water for some snorkeling. Snorkeling in this channel is out of this world, its white sand bottom and great visibility makes this channel a great place to spot white-tipped reef sharks, marbled rays, tiger snake eels and lots of more fish. After kayaking we went back onboard to recharge energies with a delicious lunch from our favorite chef.

The adventure continued in the afternoon on Sullivan Bay as we walked on big fields of “Pahoe-hoe” lava flows and learned about the historic geology of the islands and the mechanism behind their formation. It is amazing to believe we were walking on new land that was created just some 100 years ago and learn about the colonization of the first plants and animals.

The Galapagos Islands are unique in many ways, today we were reminded of their geological history, its overwhelmingly beautiful marine life and its importance as a place to protect for the world.

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About the Author

Gianna Haro


Most of Gianna´s memories seem to be dreams, made on flawless white sandy beaches with black lava rock contours and gorgeous turquoise ocean waters. Most of it happened while barefoot, in an enchanting place that some people regard as an ideal natural laboratory, the Galápagos Islands. For her it was home. Gianna grew up going to the beach nearly every day, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, playing with wild flowers, having sea lions steal her ice cream, observing marine iguanas, and identifying invertebrates. The latter was by no means technically accurate—she dubbed each new discovery with its own made-up scientific name. At some point during those early years, being an observer became an innate ability and she knew she wanted to be a biologist. 

About the Photographer

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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