Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Sep 17, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

We Woke up to a nice sunny day! There was a pleasant breeze and the ocean was calm. The naturalists had spotted wildlife, and some of us headed to the top deck of National Geographic Endeavour ll when an announcement was made.  We enjoyed the show of several common dolphins near our mother vessel, a couple of whale blows were also recognized in the distance.

After breakfast, we had a dry landing and walked on the youngest of all the islands within the archipelago. Fernandina holds an extraordinary visitor site full of hundreds of marine iguanas basking under the sun, perched on the black lava fields.

Along the walk, we spotted a couple of Galapagos hawks flying low and close to the ground in search of any distracted prey. These raptors are the top land predators in the Galapagos. A small colony of Galapagos flightless cormorants were also observed by the shoreline of Punta Espinoza. Some Cormorants were building nests, mostly made from brown kelp algae and pieces of sea stars and fish bones. It’s quite a show to see the mating rituals of these endemic flightless birds.

After the hike, we went on a fantastic snorkeling outing, encountering several Pacific green sea turtles, playful sea lion pups, a couple of Galapagos penguins, and a few marine iguanas feeding underwater. This time of the year the water is a bit “refreshing” (69 F) for the equator, allowing for plenty of species of fish to be around coastal areas feeding and interacting among themselves. We spotted several species including colorful ones like the blue-chin parrotfish, and some in big schools such as the yellowtail surgeonfish.

During the afternoon we went on a Zodiac ride along the coast of Isabela Island, spotting blue-footed boobies, Galapagos fur seals, Nazca boobies, brown pelicans and a couple of Galapagos penguins feeding. During the ride we also explored the cliffs of Isabela which are full of geological features of all colors and shapes. After the Zodiac ride, we navigated across the equator line and had a celebration on the sun deck.

This was a day full of activities, from visiting the youngest of the jewels in the crown, to crossing hemispheres. We are looking forward to the rest of the week!

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About the Author

Jonathan Aguas

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Jonathan was born into one of only a handful of families that reaches back five generations in Galápagos, in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, on San Cristobal Island. He first left the islands when he won a highly-coveted scholarship to finish his studies in the U.S.  This was the start of his life-long passion for science and languages. He earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from the University of Florida and later spent time in Europe, where he learned French. He is now fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

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