Juan Carlos Avila, Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor
07 Dec 2021
Isabela Island & Tagus Cove, 12/7/2021, National Geographic Endeavour II
National Geographic Endeavour II
Isabela is the largest island in the archipelago. It has six volcanoes, and one of them is only halfway above the surface of the water. We explored the south and central realm of Isabela, visiting Urbina Bay in the morning and Tagus Cove in the afternoon.
Gilda was born in Ambato, located in the very heart of the Ecuadorian Andes. Since she was a child, she loved animals, often rescuing street cats and dogs. Her parents always made sure there were nature books and plenty of Jacques Cousteau’s videos a...
Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of San...
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.