Genovesa Island

Apr 27, 2019 - National Geographic Islander

Today we all woke up as shellbacks! This is a marine term given to anyone who crosses the equatorial line on ship. Historically, though, it was one reserved for the sailors who would spend hours at a time cleaning the deck with their bare backs exposed day after day against the unremitting sun.

Yes, we crossed last night to arrive at a northern island of the Galapagos, and one of naturalists’ favorite: Genovesa Island. This is a land mass home to thousands of birds of different species, including frigate birds, red-footed boobies, Nazca boobies, swallow-tailed gulls, red-billed tropicbirds, herons, doves, short-eared owls, and finches.

In the morning we visited Darwin Bay, where we got to walk on coral-white sand and have up-front encounters with mating frigate birds and nesting red-footed boobies. In the afternoon we went on top of Genovesa Island to look for our diurnal short-eared owl—and we found it! The Galapagos have showed our guests how charming the world could be if we would all coexist. Our guests leave these lands tomorrow but not without taking with them a lifetime’s worth of memories.

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About the Author

Gianna Haro


Most of Gianna´s memories seem to be dreams, made on flawless white sandy beaches with black lava rock contours and gorgeous turquoise ocean waters. Most of it happened while barefoot, in an enchanting place that some people regard as an ideal natural laboratory, the Galápagos Islands. For her it was home. Gianna grew up going to the beach nearly every day, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, playing with wild flowers, having sea lions steal her ice cream, observing marine iguanas, and identifying invertebrates. The latter was by no means technically accurate—she dubbed each new discovery with its own made-up scientific name. At some point during those early years, being an observer became an innate ability and she knew she wanted to be a biologist. 

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