Genovesa Island

Apr 26, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Tower or Genovesa, that’s home to over one million seabirds. Our highlights here were many, from Nazca, red- and blue-footed boobies, to gulls, 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 celebrity visitor William Beebe in honor of Charles Darwin, a 19th-century British naturalist who greatly impacted how humans understand adaptation and survival in the natural world. At low tide we walked in the company of birds of all varieties, colors, and behaviors. We were moved to see these sea birds caring for juveniles who would one day make a life for themselves and their own offspring.

Fortunes soared further when we came across the male frigates whose red gular pouches were swollen and wings outstretched to attract (with luck and the right amount of charm) the females flying overhead. We saw red-footed booby chicks and adults, and after enough searching, we managed to spot the camouflaged eggs of a swallowed-tail gull. What an island!

Right now Genovesa is at its peak. I like to say, “And just when you thought you’ve seen it all! There is Genovesa Island.” It was truly a fantastic day.

Back aboard we prepared for our last snorkel outing, which afforded many intimate and up-close encounters with a seeming galaxy of tropical fish and playful sea lions. Excitement and admiration were common sentiments in these waters.

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, thanks to our top-notch culinary staff.

After lunch came kayaking. Then we were then ready to start off our next adventure, Prince Philip’s Steps, where we were surrounded by Nazca, red-footed boobies, and frigatebirds. My colleagues were even able to find the elusive short-ear owl. All of us felt privileged to have a unique view of the only camouflage diurnal raptor.

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 earliest foundations 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 unlike those species of this island.

“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 in this week together, 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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