Sombrero Chino and Sullivan Bay

Sep 13, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


Friday the 13th found us on a real adventure! King Neptune sent the WINDS this morning! When we dropped anchor shortly before 6:00 at the mouth of a picturesque channel between an extensive barren lava flow and the islet that does indeed look like a Chinese hat, the wind was blowing, but the Captain and I deemed it safe for kayakers and paddleboarding. By the time the early riser paddlers returned to the ship, exhilarated and wet, the winds had picked up significantly! I cancelled the second round of kayaking, but three Zodiacs went out to explore the shores of this lava field that dates back to 1897.

Snorkeling was next on our schedule, and despite the winds, it was a huge success! The water was a cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit, but heck – we are searching for penguins! Yes, because these islands are bathed in cold currents from the south – the Humboldt – and the west – the Cromwell – penguins arrived, adapted, and thrive in the Galapagos. The endemic Galapagos penguin are among the smallest in the world.

The snorkelers swam along the edge of the Santiago lava flow and were rewarded with very good sightings of sharks, rays and colorful schooling fish of many species. We felt like we were swimming in a fish tank; the water was so clear! But the winds continued and made our exit from the water a bit of a challenge.

After we enjoyed an abundant and delicious traditional Ecuadorian buffet lunch, and a well-deserved siesta, Naturalist Ben gave an interesting talk about Charles Darwin and his trip through these islands over 180 years ago. We boarded the Zodiacs and went again to search for penguins and were delighted to find six of them! Our afternoon hike began with a dry disembarkation right on the lava flow. We hiked for a mile on the ropy “pahoehoe” lava, were delighted and amazed at the varied textures, colors and forms in this lava field, and we took many photos!

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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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