Exploring Santiago Island

Jan 24, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


We woke this morning for a pre-breakfast outing along the coast of Santiago Island and then afterward stopped to visit Espumilla Beach. Choppier conditions aboard the Zodiac did not keep us from spotting several Galapagos fur seals, blue-footed boobies, swallow-tail and Franklin’s gulls, and plenty of yellow-tailed mullets feeding on plankton right at surface of the breaking waves. We even caught sight of Galapagos sharks near the coast!

After breakfast, the captain and crew repositioned the ship, and several guests went back went off to snorkel in search of marine life. The snorkelers spotted white-tipped reef sharks as well as a couple of playful sea lions and a large variety of fish. Others opted to get a landscape view of Santiago’s appeal by Zodiac. During the ride, Nazca boobies and several striated herons were seen along the coast.

After lunch, and after a wet landing getting onto the beach, we were off to explore the coastline of Egas Port. The coastline was rich in different shapes, textures, and colors those new to the Galapagos have likely never encountered.

Tuff layers (compacted volcanic ash) are a great example of this. These formations on shore are the product of volcanic eruption and years’ and years’ worth of waves washing over them.

Walking along the beach, striated herons, least sandpipers, plovers, whimbrels, and other migratory birds were spotted. By the end of our hike, we came upon an expanse of collapsed lava tubes that connected to the ocean, an area home to several Galapagos fur seals, yellow crown night herons, and a few sea turtles.

What an incredible time we had today. Witnessing unique geology, marine life, and plenty of birds made for an enchanted day on Santiago Island.

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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.

About the Photographer

Cindy Manning

Expedition Leader

Born in Lima, Peru, of North American parents, Cindy and her family subsequently lived in several South American and European countries with a couple stops in Peoria, Illinois. Cindy received a degree in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana. Afterwards, Cindy spent a year and a half teaching science in the Western Province of Kenya, East Africa. 

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