Genovesa Island

Oct 11, 2019 - National Geographic Endeavour II

Tower Island, otherwise known as Genovesa, is home to over one million seabirds. Our highlights here were diverse, from Nazca, red-footed and blue-footed boobies and gulls to owls, fur seals, hammerheads sharks, turtles and manta rays.

Our adventure began with a wet landing on a white coralline beach inside Darwin Bay, named by a celebrity visitor, William Beebe, in honor of a great naturalist who re-directed human thought, Charles Darwin. At low tide, we walked over a platform, surrounded by birds of all kinds, observing their behaviors as they cared for their chicks, hoping one day they will fend for themselves. We were also happy that one of our guests was able to spot a few marine iguanas, which are smaller and darker here, as this northern hemisphere island has much different ecology, and like a petri dish, produces different results. We were able to reach the towers or navigational markers that help indicate the entry baring into the caldera. We saw many red-footed boobies and about six marine iguanas.

Back aboard we prepared for our last snorkeling outing of the expedition. As we explored the undersea realm for the last time on this expedition, we had close encounters with many fish and playful sea lions. Seeing them up close brought excitement and admiration. Some of us opted for swimming off of the beach, which was a great opportunity to enjoy the beach.

After this great adventure, we came back to our ship anchored inside Genovesa caldera to be briefed about our departure, and we enjoyed our last delicious lunch, the pride of our culinary staff. Afterwards, we went for our last kayaking and paddle-boarding outing. We were then ready to start off our next adventure at Prince Philip’s Steps, where we were surrounded by Nazca boobies, red-footed boobies and frigatebirds—we were even able to find the elusive short-eared owl. All of us felt rewarded to have a unique sighting of the only camouflaged diurnal raptor.

Taking this walk was like being transported back in time. There were birds flying all over, like in prehistoric times, and lava formations resembling the first foundation of Earth. Later, it was time to return to the ship and reminisce about the many experiences of such a wonderful week. As we look back and gaze at the islands for the last time, this place now seems to be timeless to us. It is now deep within our hearts and our experience has been unforgettable on these special islands, where the wildlife that has no fear and allows us to realize that we are not so different.

“We must not acknowledge the methodical saying ‘don’t humanize the animals’ but instead ‘animalize the human’ by perceiving our surrounding with all our senses; embracing nature by coexistence and respect for one another, so we can become one with nature as we once were.”

Celso Montalvo


We have all bonded like a family, united by this invisible mysticism. At the end of our journey, we hope to stay in touch, and we hope that the experience our guests had this week will stay with them for a lifetime.

Adiós amigos.

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About the Author

Celso Montalvo

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Celso was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador. At the age of nine he arrived in the Galápagos for the first time and he was profoundly touched by nature, observation, and isolation.  When he saw the sharks, rays and turtles swimming in the bay, he was triggered by a sense of wonder that he did not feel before.  Celso believes education is key to preservation. After graduating from the Naval Academy at the age of 17 he moved to New York to continue his education.

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