Santa Cruz and Daphne Major

Aug 30, 2017 - National Geographic Endeavour II

The northern “hemisphere” of Santa Cruz Island is arid and dry, as it lies in the rain shadow, and it certainly looks very different to the lush and green southern coast. Cerro Dragón or “Dragon Hill” is the last of the remaining population of land iguanas of Santa Cruz due to predation by introduced species like rats, cats and dogs. We followed a trail inland in order to see them in their natural, preserved habitat, and with the air temperature rising we could spot several of them either sunbathing or looking for cactus pads and fruits. The trail in Cerro Dragón took as through coastal and dry vegetation zones, and with today’s blue skies there was an explosion of colour around us. There was a snorkeling opportunity at Guy Fawkes Rocks, the remains of an old tuff cone where the underwater life thrives thanks to the optimum conditions found there.

In the afternoon we set off for a Zodiac ride along the coast of Eden Islet and a stretch of coast on the Santa Cruz side. With quiet inlets and bays, this place offers the perfect shelter to native creatures like spotted eagle rays, Pacific green sea turtles and even baby sharks. Numbers of seabirds fed along this rich coast, amongst which we spotted blue-footed boobies, great blue herons, brown noddy terns and brown pelicans. Just before sunset we circumnavigated around Daphne Major, a tuff cone in the middle of the ocean that has been the scenario of an ongoing research on the local population of Darwin finches. 

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About the Author

Gaby Bohorquez


Gaby was born and raised in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Her first job in the Galapagos was on board a 90-passenger cruise ship as the cruise director’s assistant, and she fell under the spell of the Enchanted Isles. She returned to Guayaquil to study at the Espiritu Santo Technological University to obtain a degree in Tourism Management. Her fascination for the islands was still strong so, after finishing her studies, Gaby took the opportunity to join the Naturalist Guide’s course, jointly organized by the Galapagos National Park Service and the Charles Darwin Research Station. That was back in 1992, and she has been a naturalist since, keeping her deep love and passion for the islands during all these years.

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