Fernandina and Isabela Islands

Dec 24, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today we sailed to the western islands, Fernandina and Isabella. We reached Punta Espinoza, the northeastern part of Fernandina in the morning and walked along relatively new lava fields. Fernandina is the youngest island of the Galapagos. The last volcanic eruption happened last year.

The Western Islands are also colder and nutrient-rich due to the equatorial undercurrent and equatorial upwelling. Both events bring cold nutrient-rich waters with lots of nitrogen, phosphorous and iron that in turn fuel primary productivity (the growth rate of marine algae).  This sustains the largest population of grazers such as marine iguanas and green sea turtles. Male marine iguanas at this time are very territorial because they are competing for mates. This is the peak of the mating season for marine iguanas.

In the afternoon we sailed to Punta Vicente Roca, a collapse caldera in the north part of Isabella, the largest island of the Galapagos. We used our Zodiacs to explore the walls of this caldera and observed several species that are abundant in the western part of the Islands. 

Later, we tasted wine and crossed the equator on the 24th of December. A special opportunity to celebrate with family and friends.

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About the Author

Luis Vinueza


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. 

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