Isabela and Fernandina Island

Jun 11, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


We navigated much of the night and crossed the equator into the northern hemisphere during the wee hours of the morning. Sunrise found us heading west along the north coast of the large seahorse shaped island of Isabela. Isabela is by far the largest island in the archipelago and has more land mass than all the other islands combined. This morning we navigated slowly and searched for cetaceans and seabirds. We were delighted to find many of both—a pod of several hundred common dolphins gave us an amazing show!

We explored Punta Vicente Roca by Zodiac and then joined the marine world to snorkel. What an amazing experience we had: swimming with dozens of sea turtles, with penguins and cormorants, sea lions and fur seals, and of course colorful fish.

In the afternoon, we visited one of the most pristine tropical islands in the world, Fernandina Island. From a distance, this massive black shield volcano appears lifeless and dormant. But in truth the lava shores are home to thousands of marine iguanas, lava lizards, bright red Sally Lightfoot crabs, sea lions, and many species of land and marine birds. Flightless cormorants are interesting birds. Their ability to fly was lost evolutionarily over time, as the seas around the Galapagos are so rich that they could easily dive for food instead.

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About the Author

Lynn Fowler

Expedition Leader

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, and one of seven children, Lynn grew up in various university towns where her father was a professor of physics. Lynn obtained her B.A. in biology from Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana, followed by a master’s degree in zoology from the University of Florida, which encompassed a study of marine turtles in Costa Rica. She arrived in Galápagos in 1978 and became one of the first female naturalist guides working for the Galápagos National Park.

About the Photographer

Patricio Maldonado

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Patricio, better known as Pato amongst his friends, was born in the Galápagos Island. His family moved to the islands from the mainland and settled on the island of Santa Cruz over thirty-five years ago. Pato had an enchanted childhood in the islands, where his keen interest in the wildlife of the Galápagos was born initially through catching lizards and observing how they lost their tails. His experiences in the islands have led him to teach visitors about the need to protect this rare and unique environment.

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