South Plaza & Santa fe Islands

Jun 07, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today we are visiting two islands, both near Santa Cruz and both created by volcanic uplift.

Before breakfast we dry land to be welcomed by playful sea lions, and land iguanas. The latter in great numbers due to rapid growing mainly to lack of major predation and competition for food by hawks. A large population of cactus trees keep them healthy and shaded. One of the most picturesque landscapes are found here as the ground cover portulaca grows vastly in area and color. Low elevation allows us to see almost every angle of it. At one area, we see some male sea lions at a high elevation for rest. Sea gulls are almost all around the ground as they are feeding and protecting their chicks at their nests. To make the morning even more interesting we jump into the ocean from the ship.

In the afternoon, we navigate to neighbor Santa Fe for more fun. Kayaks and paddleboards are lowered and pull into a beautiful bay to give our guests a close view of the landscape and wildlife of this island as they paddle along. Later in the afternoon, we are landing on white sand beaches to encounter many sea lions loose or in groups all doing something to entertain our people as if they had to. We continue along the trail to find more like the endemic Santa Fe land iguana, lava lizards, many land birds and more. Even the shallow water bay harbors plenty of life like eagle rays, turtles, white tip reef sharks and more.

The day ends with colored sky as the sun settles in the horizon.

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About the Author

Patricio Maldonado

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands, where his keen interest in the wildlife of the Galápagos was born initially through catching lizards and observing how they lost their tails. His experiences in the islands have led him to teach visitors about the need to protect this rare and unique environment.

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