Today is our first full day of exploration, and we started on Bartolome Island, a young volcano formed in the central part of the archipelago. We hiked to the very top of the island and observed geologic formations that helped us imagine the processes that formed this archipelago. Lava flows, spatter cones, tuff cones, and eroded fields are some of the features that fill the island’s landscape. We had the opportunity to explore underwater from a beautiful beach at the base of Pinnacle Rock. We swam with penguins, colorful fish, and sharks.

In the afternoon, we visited Santa Cruz to find the famous land iguanas. We disembarked on a rocky shoreline, where we found a forest of Opuntia cactus. The well-adapted plants create an interesting vegetation zone. As we continued into the island, we passed a brackish water lagoon system that feeds many bird species, such as stilts, ducks, whimbrels, and seagulls. Finally, we arrived at the hill where the iguanas nest. Softer, deeper soil allows iguanas to dig burrows. We found a couple of colorful males and many nests that were just built.