Isabela & Fernandina Islands

Aug 08, 2017 - National Geographic Islander

We woke up early today to meet the Common dolphins while navigating to cross the equator. Afterwards we went for an incredible Zodiac ride to Punta Vicente Roca, at Ecuador volcano. There we were able to see dikes cross-cutting red ashes and other pyroclastic deposits. We also saw fur seals lying down on the rocks, marine iguanas hanging from the lava walls, and also from the tuff formations. The green sea turtles of the Pacific were swimming all around us while feeding. We counted over forty of them from the Zodiac. 

One of my favourite endemic animals on the Galapagos Islands is the flightless cormorant. It’s unique and found only on the northern and western coasts of Isabela and Fernandina islands. It lost its ability to fly, therefore has vestigial wings and instead its body is better adapted for swimming, with stronger feet muscles that help for propulsion. He feeds on octopus, small fish and eels. I felt very lucky today when one of them decided to jump on one of the zodiacs to spend some time with us while drying its wings and trying to pull the bright yellow rope out of our panga. He seemed to be as curious of us as we were of him.

In the afternoon we visited Punta Espinoza on Fernandina Island, with 248 square miles and an elevation of 4,900 feet. Here we were able to see a lava and also pahoehoe lava formations. Marine iguanas were piled up on top of each other, providing heat for each other. These marine iguanas are the largest in body size of anywhere in the archipelago. Exploring this amazing area is very inspiring by the fact that there is such unique wildlife surviving on this large lava field.

We were very lucky to see a whale in the distance which reminded us that we are in such a unique and special place. 

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About the Author

Cristina Ahassi


Cristina was born in Quito but spent her entire childhood in the Galápagos Islands surrounded by the nature that has inspired her passion for her work.

About the Videographer

Matthew Ritenour

Video Chronicler

Matthew grew up on the Gulf of Mexico, where a love of geography, culture and history were instilled at a young age. He studied anthropology at California State University, Chico, and soon began working at the Advanced Laboratory for Visual Anthropology (ALVA), a documentary production studio that focuses on sharing the results of anthropological research with the public. As a cinematographer and editor at ALVA, he documented research on everything from the effects of drought in California, to looted petroglyphs in the Sierra Nevada high desert, and the global trade in emeralds.

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