Isabela and Fernandina Islands - Merry Christmas!

Dec 25, 2018 - National Geographic Islander


The sun rose this morning over a beautiful calm sea. We had crossed the Equator last night and were navigating in the northern hemisphere along the northern coast of the seahorse-shaped island of Isabela. Naturalist Gianna was on the sky deck, and I was on the bow desk searching with our binoculars for cetaceans: whales and dolphins. Scanning the ocean, I was delighted to spot a small pod of some 50 or so common dolphins close to shore feeding among seabirds. First mate Giovanni turned National Geographic Islander, and as we maneuvered around the leaping dolphins, we felt we had received a Christmas gift with the sight of these graceful marine mammals.

Our excellent Christmas morning continued when we took a Zodiac ride after breakfast to Punta Vicente Roca and saw dozens of marine iguanas feeding on algae at low tide. We also saw penguins in the water or resting on rocks, and many huge sea turtles all around our Zodiacs. In addition, some of us saw hammerheads and a massive ray!

The late morning snorkeling was superb. The water was a comfortable 72 degrees and the wildlife was abundant. We swam among the turtles, watched fast moving penguins chase and catch tiny fish, played with curious sea lions, and identified a dozen species of colorful fish. We were wet anyway, so it didn’t bother us at all that it began to rain.

In the afternoon, we made a landing at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island, right on the lava. The walk was a fitting finale to this magical day. We stepped carefully among the hundreds of resting marine iguanas, photographed flightless cormorants and watched huge breakers rolling in from the sea. What a fabulous – and for most of us, very different– Christmas day it has been!

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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 Photographer

Walter Perez

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Walter was born in a very small town on the mainland of Ecuador. His first trip to the Galápagos was when he was 12 years old, visiting friends and aunt, who had moved to the islands. From the first moment he saw the Islands, he fell in love with them and knew then where his future home would be.

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