Genovesa: Darwin Bay & Prince Phillip’s Steps

Apr 14, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today we visited Genovesa, a paradise for the observation of sea birds. Genovesa is located in the northeast part of the Archipelago and the currents that bath Genovesa are usually warmer and nutrient poor.

In the morning, we visited Darwin Bay beach, we saw red-footed boobies for the first time, and Genovesa holds the largest colony of these pantropical species, with more than 140,000 pairs. Red-footed boobies are the smallest of the three species of boobies that breed on the islands and they nest on trees. We also saw great frigate birds and many males had their red pouch fully inflated to attract members of the opposite sex. 

Later, during our snorkeling outing we saw a school of mobulas as well as one manta ray and two huge hammerhead sharks.

In the afternoon, we climbed up Prince Phillip’s Steps to see the barn owl, we saw at least six individuals, very active during the day. Barn owls in this island are active during the day due to the absence of Galapagos Hawk. Barn owl prey on storm petrels that are quite abundant in Genovesa. We also saw a waved albatross, an unusual sight for this location. Finally, we saw one fur seal on the cliffs of Genovesa.

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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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