Genovesa Island

Dec 20, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Tower Island, known more commonly as Genovesa – that’s home to over one million seabirds. Our highlights here were diverse, from Nazca, red- and blue-footed boobies and gulls to owls, fur seals, hammerhead sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Our adventure began with a wet landing on a white coralline beach inside Darwin Bay, named by celebrity visitor William Beebe in honor of the great naturalist Charles Darwin, who re-directed human thought on evolution to what it is today. At low tide and over a platform we walked surrounded by birds of all kinds, their chicks, behavior and colors. We were first moved by so much seabird activity and the parents caring for juveniles, hoping one day they can fend for themselves. One of our guests was able to spot few marine iguanas, smaller and darker complected here in the northern hemisphere, on an island with breathtaking variety in ecology, and like a Pitri-dish, with different results. When we reached our turning point, we were surprised by the tidal water as it arrived rapidly to shore; slow flowing water in turn brought baby stingrays, puffer fish, sea lions and many other creatures.

Back aboard we prepared for our last snorkeling outing across the undersea realm! Today we had close encounters with many fish and playful sea lions for the last time. Seeing them this close brought excitement and admiration. Some opted for beach snorkeling which became a bit rough, for it feels the seasons are changing earlier than expected.

After this great adventure, we came back to our ship anchored inside Genovesa’s caldera to be briefed about our departure and enjoyed our last delicious lunch, compliments of 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, red-footed boobies and frigatebirds. My colleagues were even able to find the elusive short-ear owl. All of us felt rewarded to have a unique view the only camouflage diurnal raptor. Today was a red-footed booby day, and also we were able to spot frigatebirds with the long waited red gular pouch 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, like 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 and 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 must not acknowledge the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ but instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surrounding with all our senses; embracing nature by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.”

 —Celso Montalvo

We have all bounded like a family, 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.

About the Videographer

David Pickar

Video Chronicler

David Pickar is a native of Portland, Oregon. He studied anthropology at the University of Oregon, then spent several years working as a field archaeologist. Participating in excavations in countries like Jordan, Belize and Italy and in every corner of the US, allowed him to witness culture and the environment from an unusual perspective.

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