Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Oct 02, 2018 - National Geographic Islander


Today will be a difficult one to surpass! No sooner had I made our optional early 0615 wakeup call, then naturalist Vanessa spotted four small whales north of the ship. They dove and never showed themselves again; we suspect they were some of the rare and elusive beaked whales that are found, but not often seen, in the western seas of the Galapagos Archipelago. Very soon afterward we found and followed a Bryde’s whale, before contentedly heading down for breakfast.

As we celebrated crossing the equator, I spied the telltale triangular fins of male orcas! Captain Gonzalo agreed that we could lower our fleet of Zodiacs, and off we went, hoping to be able to get in close to the orcas for photos and a good look at these stunning black and white creatures. Did we EVER get both good looks and great photos! We had a fabulous once-in-a-lifetime experience! We will send pictures to the scientists who are studying the orcas of the Pacific and will see if the very healthy, young male we followed, admired, and photographed is in their orca catalog.

Reluctantly we left the whale, returned to the ship, and continued on to Punta Vicente Roca where we were scheduled for snorkeling. I did not want to miss this snorkel outing (so we adjusted and pushed back our lunchtime) and it was indeed amazing! We swam among dozens of sea turtles, with both sea lions and fur seals, marine iguanas, flightless cormorants and of course fish of all sizes and colors. Yes, in less than an hour we swam with mammals, reptiles, birds, and fish! Where else on our planet can you find such diversity on a snorkel outing? Better yet, all these creatures were fearless and easily approached!

There were at least eight more Bryde’s whales diving, surfacing, and spouting in the distance as we navigated towards Fernandina Island after lunch. Our afternoon hike at Punta Espinoza was the finale to a magical day! We hiked among hundreds of smiling marine iguanas, found flightless cormorants drying their wings, a Galapagos hawk and of course many charming sea lions!

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About the Author

Lynn Fowler

Expedition Leader

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and one of seven children, Lynn grew up in various university towns where her father was a professor of physics. Lynn obtained her B.A. in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, followed by a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida, which encompassed a study of marine turtles in Costa Rica. She arrived in Galápagos in 1978 and became one of the first female naturalist guides working for the Galápagos National Park.

About the Videographer

Mark Coger

Video Chronicler

Growing up in a military family, Mark Coger has been traveling most of his life.  While living in Japan, he developed his passion for videography.  He began his venture in the field of video production by filming numerous events for a local high school and the military community before moving to Southern California, where he obtained his degree in filmmaking at California State University Northridge.  From there, he went on to produce and direct his first major short film, An American Journalist which was screened at the Method Film Festival.

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