Genovesa Island

Oct 25, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Tower, or Genovesa, Island is home to over one million seabirds. Our highlights here were diverse, from Nazca, red- and blue-footed boobies and gulls, to owls, fur seals, hammerheads sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Our adventure began with a wet landing on a white coralline beach inside Darwin Bay, named by a celebrity visitor, William Beebe, in honor of the great naturalist who re-directed human thought, Charles Darwin. At low tide, and over a platform, we walked surrounded by birds of all kinds, their chicks, behaviors and colors. We were moved to see so many active seabirds and parents taking care of juveniles in the hope that they would one day fend for themselves. We were also happy that one of our guests was able to spot a few marine iguanas, which are smaller and darker here, as this northern hemisphere island has much different ecology than others we’ve visited. So, like a petri dish, we were seeing different results.

When we reached our turning point, we were surprised by the tidal water as it was coming in rapidly; this slow flowing water brought baby stingrays, puffer fish, sea lions and many other creatures on what was – just moments ago – our walking trail!

Back aboard, we prepared for our last snorkeling outing in search of the undersea realm. Today we had close encounters with many fish and playful sea lions for the last time. Seeing them up close brought excitement and admiration.

After this great adventure we came back to our ship, anchored inside Genovesa Caldera, to be briefed about our departure and enjoy our last delicious lunch, a source of pride for our culinary staff. After lunch we opted for our last kayak outing.

We were then ready to start off our next adventure, Prince Philip’s Steps, where we were surrounded by Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies, and frigate birds. My colleagues were able to find the elusive short-eared owl. All of us felt lucky to have a unique view of the only camouflage diurnal raptor. Today was also a great day of spotting red-footed boobies and frigate birds, the latter with their red gular pouches from the bachelors eager to be selected by females.

Taking this walk was like being transported back in time. There were birds flying all over, likely as it was in prehistoric times, and lava formations resembling the first foundation of Earth. Later, it was time to return to the ship and reminisce about the many experiences of such a wonderful week. As we look back and gaze at the islands for the last time, this place now seems to be timeless to us. It is now deep within our hearts. Our experience has been unforgettable on these special islands, where the wildlife that has no fear and allows us to realize that we are not so different.

We have bonded as a result of this expedition, united by this invisible mysticism. At the end of our journey we hope to stay in touch and that the experience our guests had this week will stay with them for a lifetime.

Adiós, amigos.

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About the Author

Celso Montalvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

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