Expedition Stories

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Isabela and Fernandina Islands

Christian Saa, Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 10 Dec 2019

Isabela and Fernandina Islands, 12/10/2019, National Geographic Islander

  • Aboard the National Geographic Islander
  • Galápagos

We cruised on smooth seas during the night and at daybreak were north of Isabela Island, having crossed the equator in the wee hours. For 45 minutes we search the tranquil seas for birds and marine mammals until finally naturalist Christian spotted a huge pod of common dolphins feeding west of us. First mate Patricio maneuvered the ship slowly alongside them and we watched as they leapt and dove; there were 300-400 hundred of them!

One of our guests spied the black backs of small whales beyond the dolphins, and I quickly identified them as short-finned pilot whales. We followed the pod of at least 20 pilots as they calmly surfaced and dove first in front and them just beside the ship. The mate turned off our engines and as we floated with the whales. We were delighted to hear them blow and to get many striking photos!

After breakfast we crossed the equator line and received shellback pins, then Captain Carlos anchored off Punta Vicente Roca, northern Isabela. Here we took Zodiac cruises along the dramatic coast and found sea turtles, sea lions and fur seals, diving blue-footed boobies and many other sea birds. We had an amazing snorkel outing in the bay full of plankton and turtles, schools of colorful fish and some of us even saw penguins and flightless cormorants!

Our afternoon hike on the youngest island in the archipelago – Fernandina – was spectacular. We walked on pahoehoe lava among hundreds of resting marine iguanas, and admired and photographed the ubiquitous and charming sea lions. We saw oystercatchers, an adult, chocolate colored hawk, a great blue heron, mating crabs and flightless cormorants. We have had another absolutely incredible day in the magical Islas Galapagos!

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