Today we had a great day at Genovesa, also called Tower Island. We started with a walk on Prince Philip’s Steps, where we were welcomed by a big colony of Nazca boobies. The wind was beautiful and refreshing. We passed a dry forest of palo santo trees and found several red-footed boobies, which are the island’s highlight. They nest on trees because they need to have their chicks sheltered when they leave to go fishing. They are usually gone for a couple of days because their diet consists of the pelagic fish (from the open sea) that they find in an area between Galapagos and the mainland.
As we reached an open field of lava, we found lava cactus, a pioneer plant. Suddenly we realized that there was a short-eared owl on a big mount. These owls are an endemic species and a day predator on Genovesa Island. There are no other diurnal hunters on the island. They normally trap storm petrels, and there were lots of them today.
Midmorning, we went snorkeling inside the caldera and found beautiful fish, like Moorish idols, parrotfish, rainbow wrasses, and young blue damselfish with iridescent spots. The water is warm (75 degrees Fahrenheit) due to the Panama Current that comes from the north.
In the midafternoon, we went kayaking in the caldera. We found many birds along the wall of the caldera, like lava herons, swallow-tailed gulls, and yellow-crowned night herons.
In the late afternoon, we walked around Darwin Bay. We found many red-footed boobies in the mangroves, great frigatebirds in the bushes, and swallow-tailed gulls nesting on the ground. Several sea lion pups came to play with us, which is why I call them “sea dogs.” Genovesa is one of the nicest islands of the trip because of its very high number of birds.