Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Mar 19, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


We woke early in the morning to search for marine mammals along the western waters of the enchanted archipelago. At a distance we saw a pod of around 300 common dolphins swimming north. After breakfast we spotted about 10 short-fin pilot whales and were able to get very close to them.

We went on a Zodiac ride along the coast of Isabela, where we spotted a few flightless cormorants, brown pelicans, marine iguanas, and a few Galapagos penguins perched on the coastline. The landscape along the northern coast of Isabela island (the nose of the sea horse) is marked by red and black cliffs, brown tuff cones, and layer after layer of lava flows over the course of thousands of centuries on the largest island of the archipelago.

After the Zodiac ride, we went deep-water snorkeling and encountered several green pacific sea turtles as well as schools of king angel fish, yellow tailed razor surgeonfish, sea lions, and a small cluster of Galapagos penguins along the coast.

After lunch, we navigated to Fernandina, the youngest island of the Galapagos. Stepping out onto the shore, we were in the then in the company of hundreds of marine iguanas basking under the sun. Several tide sat eddying nearby; great blue herons were fishing; young brown pelicans flew around. Within the cover of dry black mangrove trees, Galapagos hawks were perched and watchful.

Fernandina holds the most active volcano in the archipelago, and lava fields cover most of the island area. Espinoza Point, is the visitor site which allows us to travel back in time to see the process of primary succession play out as it has so many years previous. What a privileging and unparalleled day it was here in the Galapagos!

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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.

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