Gardner Bay and Punta Suarez, Española Island, 1/22/2023, National Geographic Endeavour II
National Geographic Endeavour II
Located on the southeastern end of the archipelago, Española Island is the oldest of the Galapagos Islands. The islands are of volcanic origin, and they formed due to the activity of what geologists call a “hot spot.” As the Nazca Plate slides to the southeast over the area that produces volcanoes, new islands develop. The islands toward the northwest are the youngest, and the ones on the opposite end are the oldest.
Salvador Cazar studied biology at the Universidad Nacional Del Sur, Bahía Blanca, in Argentina and at the Catholic University of Ecuador. Between 1988 and 1994, Salvador worked as a naturalist and tour leader for several national and international to...
Early in the morning we started our activities by visiting Punta Cormorant. We had a wet landing on a green-sand beach formed by olivine crystals. Walking an easy trail we reached a brackish lagoon, where we found Galapagos flamingos. The last part of the trail was a white-sand beach crowded with green marine turtle nests. Spending the whole day at Floreana, we had all kinds of fun. Snorkeling at Champion Islet brought us close to playful sea lions and colorful fish. In the afternoon, we paid a relaxed visit to Post Office Bay. This historical site features a wooden barrel that served as an informal postal service, the first in Ecuador. For centuries, this barrel was visited by pirates and other seafarers who left letters to be founded by other people and taken back home. Our guests continued the tradition by leaving postcards and picking up postcards to be delivered when they get back home.
Today was an amazing day on Española Island, one of the oldest and most diverse islands in the Galapagos archipelago. We started our expedition in the morning at Gardner Bay, where we enjoyed the white coralline beach and the company of friendly sea lions. We also snorkeled in the surrounding water and saw reef fish, sea turtles, rays and of course, the playful young Galapagos sea lions. After a delicious lunch on board, we headed to Punta Suarez, where we hiked along the rocky shore and observed many endemic species, such as the waved albatross, Española mockingbird, marine iguana, and Española lava lizard. We were especially lucky to witness the courtship dance of the waved albatross, which was very impressive and amusing. They clacked their beaks, bowed their heads, and bellowed a mating call in a synchronized manner. We also admired the local blowhole, where seawater is forced through a fissure, creating a spectacular spray. We ended our day as light rain fell upon this “world unto itself.”
San Cristobal is an island of extremes. It features one of the driest places in Galapagos and one of the most lush and verdant areas. We had the opportunity to explore and experience both areas. This ecological range is the reason Galapagos species were forced to adapt to different vegetation zones, thus practicing natural selection.