Today was a wonderful day in the Galapagos Islands. We started early morning so we could enjoy the wildlife activity. After a delicious breakfast, we boarded the Zodiacs. Our first landing spot was a very small islet with many surprises. Yellow land iguanas were waiting for us at the landing area. We enjoyed discussing the habitat, behaviors, and interesting facts about the incredible reptiles, and we learned about their ecology. Swallow-tailed gulls were another highlight this morning. We spotted many breeding couples and enjoyed their friendly and tame behavior. We also observed sea lions and tropicbirds on our morning walk, and we enjoyed their sounds and colors. After our walk, we came back to the ship and set sail to a new island, Santa Fe. Our guests explored the island by kayak, and they also enjoyed the opportunity to snorkel. We observed many different species, including blue-footed boobies and playful sea lions, the stars of the show as they played in the water. For the rest of the afternoon, we went exploring by foot on a hike that took us through a prickly pear cactus and palo santo tree forest. Our goal was to find one of the unique species on this island: the Santa Fe land iguana. This species only lives here and is seen nowhere else in the world. The experience was complete after we saw their incredible feeding behavior. They mainly eat cactus on this island. We also observed a big colony of sea lions. They greeted us right at our landing! Finally, fast-moving lava lizards and even a Galapagos hawk were added to our list of wonders today!
National Geographic Islander II
Today we woke up at Genovesa Island, a small island also known as Tower Island located on the northeastern side of the Galápagos. Genovesa is a protected area and access is restricted to authorized tour operators. The island’s unique birdlife and geology make it a popular destination for ecotourism, and efforts are being made to protect the island’s fragile ecosystem from the impact of visitors. Genovesa Island is a relatively young island in geological terms, having formed less than one million years ago. The island is the remnant of a volcanic caldera, which collapsed and created a horseshoe-shaped bay. The island’s terrain is characterized by steep cliffs, rocky outcrops, and sandy beaches. It is popular due to its unique birdlife, geology, and human history. We started our day visiting Prince Phillip’s Steps, where we encountered two kinds of boobies, Nazca and red-footed. The island is home to the largest population of red-footed boobies in the Galápagos. These birds are known for their bright red feet, which are used to attract mates during the breeding season. Nazca boobies, on the other hand, are known for their distinctive white plumage and black masks. In addition to the boobies, Genovesa is also home to the swallow-tailed gull, lava gull, storm petrel, and the red-billed tropicbird. The island’s unique ecosystem and lack of predators has allowed these birds to thrive and adapt in unique ways. As a fitting finale to the expedition, we also snorkeled with sea lions, kayaked in the caldera, swam at the beach, and enjoyed a sunset cocktail. A wonderful day!