Española Island

Jun 04, 2018 - National Geographic Islander


Española or Hood Island is located in the Southeast of the archipelago and considered the oldest one due to its location, far from the Galapagos hot spot and its complete lack of highlands. Although the lack or rainfalls have had a significant bearing on the adaptation process that took place here, that was not an impediment to produce a great endemism with many species that are only found here, such as mockingbirds, lava lizards and waved albatross, the largest bird of the archipelago.

After short navigation from San Cristobal, early in the morning, we arrived in Gardner Bay at the Eastern of Española; it was a little bit cloudy with calm sea and soft breeze coming from the South when the National Geographic Islander finally dropped anchor. After breakfast, we had the first outing heading Zodiacs to the bay of Gardner Islet to enjoy a great snorkeling, discovering the unique underwater world of the Galapagos. We observe stingrays, schools of salemas, sea turtles, and always accompanied with some baby sea lions that were swimming with us, as inviting to play with them.After snorkeling we disembarked on the coralline white beach of Gardner Bay, where have another encounter with more Galapagos sea lions, but now, sleeping indifferently along the beach while from the bushes a flock of Espanola mockingbirds approached, as giving us the official welcome to the island. Our guests had good chance to take pictures and to interact with those incredible

Later onboard, we had the opportunity to get a taste of a delicious Ecuadorian feast; with different dishes from the highlands and the coast we enjoy the diverse cuisine of Ecuador.

In the afternoon, the National Geographic Islander circumnavigated to the West to arrive to Punta Suarez; as soon as we landed, marine iguanas and sea lions captivated our attention due to their tameness and uniqueness. Walking inland, we observed breeding colonies of different species of birds such as Nazca boobies; swallow tailed gulls and blue-footed boobies, but probably the most excited part of the hike, was when we reached the waved albatrosses nesting area. We observed them making their singular mating dance, synchronizing their moving and sky pointing their bills producing a well-elaborated ritual before mating.

With the last beams of sun, tired but happy we returned onboard, with the best memories of a day that will remain with us forever.

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About the Author

Paul Vergara

Naturalist

Paul grew up on the island of Floreana, one of the earliest islands of the Galápagos to have been inhabited, and one of Charles Darwin's centers of research. But just because Floreana has a long history of human settlements, does not mean that growing up there was a very modern experience. In the 1970s, there was neither electricity nor cars on the island. Not only that, but Paul and the rest of the inhabitants had to use donkeys for transportation, preserving their fish and meat using salt from the sea.

About the Videographer

Dave Katz

Video Chronicler

Dave grew up in a small town in the Finger Lakes region of New York and at an early age fell in love with the outdoors. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Geology, Dave set out to explore the world, working seasonally as a mountain guide and pursuing a growing interest in photography and storytelling. Since 2013, Dave has dedicated his time to working as a professional filmmaker. His work, projects and travels have drawn him to over 85 countries on six continents and his varied published work has appeared on television, in print and on the internet for clients such as Nat Geo Kids, PBS Nature and Outside Magazine.

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