Urbina Bay and Tagus Cove

Sep 18, 2019 - National Geographic Islander


A brand new day found us anchored at Isabela Island with the view of the majestic Alcedo Volcano dominating the scenery. We were all very motivated and had great expectations, and so after breakfast, our first activity of the day started with a wet landing on a volcanic black beach at Urbina Bay. In this remote location, a trail goes inland through the typical arid zones of the Galapagos, and is covered with thick vegetation, mainly composed of spiny bushes and medium sized trees. One plant species, the poison apple tree, or “manzanillo,” possesses a latex irritant the giant tortoises and land iguanas seem to enjoy very much. Through evolution, they have developed a resistance to it, although this plant is still dangerous for other animals.

Not too far from our landing site we encountered two of the most emblematic reptile species of the Galapagos: the giant tortoises and the Galapagos land iguanas. After our hike, we swam along our landing beach which was teaming with active wildlife. We even had a couple of young, playful sea lions accompany us. Our Global Explores had Zodiac driving lessons and then all graduated with “honours” as Zodiacs pilots! Once on board, we had a marvellous presentation “Who is who in the Blue” with National Geographic Explorer Tierney Thys. It was an honour to have her aboard. Dr. Thys is an ocean scientist, conservationist, media producer, and an amazing teacher. She is also the world’s leading authority on the sunfish, one of the most fascinating fish species that inhabit our planet.

In the early afternoon, we moved to Tagus Cove where guests went snorkelling or kayaking around the bay. Sea turtles, sea lions, sea stars, Galapagos penguins, flightless cormorants, marine invertebrates, and of course, many fish species were just some of our encounters. Later in the afternoon, some guests chose to go on an invigorating fast-paced hike to one of the nearby hills for a fantastic view of the volcanic landscape and a lake visited by Charles Darwin in 1835. For those wanting a more relaxed pace, a Zodiac ride was offered to explore more of the area.

After this long but rewarding day, we returned to the ship and shared our new adventures and experiences during cocktail hour. The magic of the Galapagos was at its best today!

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About the Author

Carlos Romero

Expedition Leader

Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.

About the Videographer

Dexter Sear

Video Chronicler

Dexter grew up in England where a love for exploring the countryside ignited a lifelong passion for discovering natural history and embarking on adventure. As a teenager, two trips to India sparked a fascination with insects and a desire to share a “hidden” macro world was born. He produced a popular insect website and authored a reader digest about cultural entomology.

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