Isabela and Fernandina Islands

May 28, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


We woke early in the morning to search for marine mammals around the northern part of Isabela Island. After a communal effort to find open ocean activity, we were fortuned with sighting an immense pod of some 300 common dolphins. A couple of young Nazca boobies were soaring the sky, drafting with the broken winds as National Geographic Islander was en route. Soon we crossed the equator line, earning us the title of shellbacks.

After crossing the equator, we went on a fantastic Zodiac ride along the coast of Isabela. A couple of Galapagos penguins were seen on the rocks, large marine iguanas basking under the unyielding sun, flightless cormorants fishing, Pacific green sea turtles resting in the shallow waters, and of course an incredible coastline full of different colors and geological features.

After lunch, we navigated toward the youngest island in the enchanted archipelago, a seemingly barren yet brimming island is known as Fernandina. We suited up and went snorkeling along the coast of Fernandina. Here we had nothing less than an amazing time with feeding underwater marine iguanas and several Pacific green sea turtles which drifted right beside us. The waters around this island are very productive, and marine ecosystems are quite diverse. Following our dry landing on the black lava, we were welcomed with small mounds of a few hundred marine iguanas lounging on the hot black rock. All of them basking under the heat of the equatorial sun. We took our time to photograph many of them and learn about the amazing evolutionary adaptations of these endemic reptiles. Punta Espinoza is the name of this visitor site, being the only visitor site on Fernandina, is as pristine place which allows us to see how life takes over a new terrain through the process of primary succession. Several Galapagos sea lions were seen resting by the shore of tidal pools. A couple of flightless cormorants were drying their wings of the black lava rocks.

The sun was setting and the sight of lava cacti illuminated in rich evening sun was just perfect. Iguanas settled in for the incoming night. This is an amazing place, filled with lava fields in the backdrop of mother volcano seen in the distance.

Farewell for the day!

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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.

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