Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Jul 24, 2018 - National Geographic Islander


The open ocean that surrounds the western Galapagos Islands happens to be the most productive region in the tropical Pacific. Here we can find large populations of sea lions, sea birds, and sea turtles. What is most important is that this area is home to two flightless birds—the flightless cormorant and the Galapagos penguin.

There are sea birds skimming the surface of the ocean searching for their early feasts, and Galapagos fur seals swimming back home after their feeding forays. It’s a great pleasure to see many dark-rumped Galapagos petrels soaring in the region as well. Long ago they were nearly exterminated by feral pigs and rats. Today they are back, and the population keeps growing.

It was mid-morning when we reached Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. Here, we boarded our fleet of Zodiacs to explore the shore and its inhabitants. Blue-footed boobies, Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants, and many other creatures were found. Snorkeling at Punta Vicente Roca is always an extraordinary experience. It is the kingdom of the Pacific green sea turtle!

In the afternoon we visited Fernandina Island. This island is the youngest in this region of active volcanoes. Fernandina Island has a large colony of marine iguanas, sea turtles, and sea lions. Our outing on Fernandina was breathtaking as we saw more iguanas than expected! And the day was not over yet as after dinner we reached southern Isabela. This extra part of the journey allowed us to see a volcanic eruption. This fire has been raging for around a month, creating more lava fields and coastline for more organisms to colonize!

What an amazing view and show from mother nature at her best.

  • Send

About the Author

Juan Carlos Avila

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

About the Videographer

David Pickar

Video Chronicler

David Pickar is a native of Portland, Oregon. He studied anthropology at the University of Oregon, then spent several years working as a field archaeologist. Participating in excavations in countries like Jordan, Belize and Italy and in every corner of the US, allowed him to witness culture and the environment from an unusual perspective.

Get our newsletter

Join us for updates, insider reports & special offers.

Privacy Policy