Santa Cruz: Dragon Hill, Guy Fawkes and Daphne

Jun 06, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Today we visited the northwestern part of Santa Cruz Island, Dragon Hill, one of the few locations where it is still possible to see land iguanas in the wild. The population of land iguanas from this part of the archipelago were decimated due to the presence of feral dogs back in the 1970s. However, thanks to the restoration efforts of the Galapagos National Park, this population of land iguanas is thriving, and currently it is estimated to be around 700 individuals.

The brackish water lagoon at the beginning of our outing harbors several species of coastal and migratory birds. Today we observed black-necked stilts, a great blue heron as well as white-cheeked pintail ducks and several marine iguanas in the lagoon.

Later in the morning, we took our Zodiacs out to Guy Fawkes Islets. We went deep-water snorkeling and observed many species of colorful fish, including yellow-tailed surgeonfish, king angelfish, and parrotfish. The vertical walls were covered with bright marine sessile invertebrates including sponges, ascidians, soft corals, hydroids, barnacles, anemones and bryozoans.

In the afternoon the National Geographic Endeavor II sailed around Daphne Major and our guests learned about the research that Peter and Rosemary Grant have been conducting on the Darwin finches for more than forty years.

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About the Author

Luis Vinueza

Naturalist

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. 

About the Videographer

Dexter Sear

Video Chronicler

Dexter grew up in England where a love for exploring the countryside ignited a lifelong passion for discovering natural history and embarking on adventure. As a teenager, two trips to India sparked a fascination with insects and a desire to share a “hidden” macro world was born. He produced a popular insect website and authored a reader digest about cultural entomology.

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