Fernandina and Isabella Islands

Mar 18, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Today we sailed to the western islands of the Galapagos: Fernandina and Isabela. We woke up early, to search for whales before breakfast. The sunrise was spectacular. At 7:45 am we landed at Punta Espinoza, on the northeastern side of Fernandina. Fernandina is the youngest island of the Galapagos. The last volcanic eruption happened last year and the previous one in 2017. We walked along relatively new lava fields.

The western islands are also colder, due to the equatorial undercurrent and equatorial upwelling. Both events bring waters rich in nitrogen, phosphorous and iron, that in turn fuel primary productivity (the growth rate of marine algae). Today the temperature was 74 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 degrees colder than what we experienced at Rabida and North Seymour, islands that are centrally located.

In the afternoon, we sailed to Punta Vicente Roca, a collapsed caldera in the northern part of Isabela, the largest island in the Galapagos. We explored the walls of this caldera with our Zodiacs, and observed several species that are abundant in the western realm of archipelago, such as flightless cormorants, penguins, sea turtles, fur seals and sea lions.

Later, at sunset, we tasted wine and crossed the equator. We celebrated this event from the top deck of National Geographic Endeavour II, with the presence of pirates and buccaneers.

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About the Author

Lenin Villacis


Lenin was born in the capital city of Quito, where he grew up surrounded by the mountains and volcanoes of the Andean region of Ecuador. At age 17, he received a scholarship to study in Mexico, and a few years later traveled to the U.S. and finished college with a degree in Earth sciences. In 1994 he returned to Ecuador to undergo a training course to become a naturalist guide for his incredibly rich and biodiverse home country, and started working in the Amazon rain forest of Ecuador.

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David Pickar

Video Chronicler

David Pickar is a native of Portland, Oregon. He studied anthropology at the University of Oregon, then spent several years working as a field archaeologist. Participating in excavations in countries like Jordan, Belize and Italy and in every corner of the US, allowed him to witness culture and the environment from an unusual perspective.

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