Genovesa Island is a very special place where the animals live in harmony with each other. The volcano itself has an interesting shape due to southeast trade winds creating a mouth in the crater that became Darwin Bay. Genovesa is not a very tall volcano, but it has high cliffs surrounding the sunken caldera, which sea birds use as nesting grounds. The caldera floor is about 900 feet deep.
Genovesa is the door to the Pacific Ocean. It is ideal for sea birds that spend a lot of time feeding far out in the ocean. Red-footed boobies are pelagic birds, spending a lot of time feeding and then returning to the nesting site to raise their young. Great frigatebirds nest here between March and June, and the island is also home to the endemic swallow-tailed gull, the only night feeding gull in the world. The island’s isolation has impacted its ecological development. For example, opuntia cactus has developed quite soft spines presumably as a response to the lack of land reptiles that would prey on the cactus.
The largest colony of red-footed boobies is found on Genovesa Island. They are found almost everywhere in Darwin Bay. They nest in red mangroves where they built a platform of twigs on which they will lay one single white egg. The reason for laying one egg is due to the distance that the boobies travel to look for food—up to 300 kilometers outside of the Galapagos and back. They will tend to their young for a few months and then it will be completely independent until it reaches sexual maturity.
Great frigatebirds will also raise one single offspring, but the young will stay in the colony for a very long period. Young frigatebirds take a few years to become sexually mature and will spend this time learning the unique the piratical skills of adults who regularly steal food from other birds.
Genovesa has two visitor sites. Darwin Bay offers a coralline sandy beach where mangroves and saltbushes grow, and Prince Phillip’s Steps, which are cemented rocks and a railing that allow the visitor to climb to the top of a 90-foot cliff for a fantastic view!