Genovesa Island

Jan 18, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Tower Island, otherwise known as Genovesa, is home to over one million seabirds. Our highlights today were diverse, from Nazca, red & blue-footed boobies and gulls, to owls, fur seals, hammerheads sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Our adventure began with a wet landing on a white coralline beach inside Darwin Bay, named by a celebrity visitor, William Beebe, in honor of a great naturalist who re-directed human thought, Charles Darwin. We walked over the platform at low tide, surrounded by birds of all kinds, observing their behavior and interactions. It was moving to see these active and attentive parents, caring for their chicks and juveniles in hopes that they will be able to fend for themselves. 

One of our guests was able to spot a few marine iguanas, which are smaller and darker on this island as opposed to elsewhere in the archipelago. This is due to the much different ecology that exists here in the northern hemisphere, and like a Pitri-dish, different conditions create different results. When we reached our turning point, we were surprised by the tidal water, as it was coming in rapidly; this slow flowing water brought baby sting-rays, puffer fish, sea lions and many other creatures onto what was our walking trail, only a few minutes ago. 

Back aboard the National Geographic Endeavour II, we prepared for our last snorkeling outing. It was a fantastic excursion, and we had close encounters with many fish and playful sea lions for the last time. Seeing them up close brought excitement and admiration. After this great adventure, we came back to our ship anchored inside Genovesa caldera to be briefed about our departure and enjoyed our last delicious lunch, the pride for our culinary staff.

After lunch we went out again for our last kayak excursion. 

We were then ready to start off our next adventure, to Prince Philip’s Steps, where we were surrounded by Nazca, red-footed boobies and frigatebirds. My colleagues were able to find the elusive short-eared owl. All of us felt rewarded to have a unique view of the only camouflaged diurnal raptor in the world. Today was a red-footed booby day, and we also spotted frigatebirds with the long waited red gular pouch from the bachelors eager to be selected by females. 

Taking this walk was like being transported back in time. There were birds flying all over, like in prehistoric times, and lava formations resembling the first foundation of earth. Later, it was time to return to the ship and reminisce about the many experiences of such a wonderful week. As we look back and gaze at the islands for the last time, this place now seems to be timeless to us. It is now deep within our hearts and our experience has been unforgettable on these special islands, where the wildlife that has no fear and allows us to realize that we are not so different.

We must not acknowledge the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ but instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surrounding with all our senses; embracing nature by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.” Celso Montalvo.

We have all bonded like a family, united by this invisible mysticism   At the end of our journey we hope to stay in touch and that the experience our guests had this week will stay with them for a lifetime.

Adiós amigos.

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About the Author

Celso Montalvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

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