Discover Galapagos - A travel guide to Galapagos cruises, tours, boats and yacht charters

Galapagos Islands tours - fun for the whole family!



A travel guide to Galapagos tours, boats, cruises & yacht charters

Galapagos Islands Guided Tour

Isla Fernandina

Flightless Cormorants, Fernandina Island, Galapagos
Map of Punta Espinose, Fernandina Island, Galapagos We arrive at Punta Espinosa on Isla Fernandina early in the morning and disembark as the sun begins to rise. Immediately we are taken off guard as the black volcanic rocks seem to move. In fact, they are covered almost entirely by Marine Iguanas catching the early morning rays. As we look closer, we see small Lava Lizards perched on top of some of the iguanas and Sally Lightfoot Crabs scurrying about over the entire mass of bodies.

This is the largest colony of these iguanas in Galapagos, and the Marine Iguana is endemic, or found only in this archipelago. 

They rely on the heat from the sun to raise their body temperatures and on the oceanic breeze to cool them down when they get too hot. They regulate their body temperature by positioning themselves appropriately - and are unique among reptiles in this regard.

And they really are marine iguanas. Once they have warmed up in the morning sun we see them swim, using their laterally compressed tails for locomotion, out into the surf and then down to the bottom to feed on sea lettuce.

Marine Iguanas, Punta Espinosa, Fernandina Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Marine Iguanas

Lava Lizard on a Marine Iguana, Fernandina Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Lava lizard on marine iguana
They are able to stay submerged for up to an hour and are excellent swimmers. Once they have fed, they are out of the water, up on the warm rocks, and warming themselves in the hot equatorial sun. Once they are warm enough, they turn themselves away from the sun and into the cool breeze. They continue repositioning themselves to maintain a temperature of about 37 C. These Marine Iguanas are able to control their body temperature better than any other lizard.

We continue along a faint trail over the lava by the mangrove trees to a gravel beach. We are very careful crossing the beach as it is a nesting area for the Marine Iguanas. These iguanas bury their eggs in the gravel and rely on the sun to incubate them. We stay on the hardened lava rocks as much as possible.

Flightless Cormorant, Fernandina Island, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh
Flightless Cormorant
On the east side of Punta Espinosa stands an old snag of a mangrove tree. There is a Great Blue Heron stalking fish in the tide pools below. We continue our walk to the far side of the point where California Sea Lions bask and swim, and Sally Lightfoot Crabs scurry about. Behind them on the rocky shore is a Flightless Cormorant warming its wings in the early morning sun. An adult and young sit on a nearby nest. We sit and observe the action.

Flightless Cormorant, Fernandina, Galapagos
© Jeff Waugh Flightless Cormorant

These birds are, as their name implies, flightless. It appears that due to the lack of selective pressures from terrestrial predators they lost the ability to fly. They no longer required that ability in order to survive. It was more advantageous for survival to be excellent underwater swimmers. The Flightless Cormorant does not use its wings to propel itself through the water as penguins do. Instead, they propel themselves by using their feet as propellers and steer themselves with their rudimentary wings.

We return on the same trail to where we first saw the Marine Iguanas and continue behind the mangroves to the base of an aa lava flow and a spectacular view of Volcan Fernandina (by niemann at tforge online). The Fernandina Volcano erupted in a multi-megaton explosion in June of 1968. The explosion resulted in the creation of a new lake on the caldera floor. The endemic Brachycereus cactus grows nearby on an old lava flow.


It's beginning to get hot so we return to our landing site to snorkel with the California Sea Lions. I just love playing with sea lions and so do you! Although we are in a cold water zone of Galapagos the shoreline is shallow and heats up a bit in the sun at low tide. That's good news because we want to stay in as long as we can to play. The young sea lions come right up to sniff and see who we are. Besides having loads of fun with the sea lions, we enjoy exploring life in the tide pools.

Sea Lions are lots of fun!
© Jeff Waugh
Playing with the sea lions

Future generations...
© Jeff Waugh
Girl with sea cucumber
It is here that I used to find the sea cucumbers in astounding abundance, and it is here that they have since been legally and illegally harvested to the brink of extinction. The Asian demand for sea cucumbers has brought fortune seekers to these islands. Even though a major portion of the archipelago is a national park, the marine areas were not protected until recently. Poachers have created illegal harvesting camps on Fernandina.

Current international pressure has brought the problem to the attention of the President of Ecuador. Efforts to ensure protection of the Galapagos ecosystem for future generations continue...

After a swim we are back to our boat for cold drinks, lunch and a siesta as we take a short cruise across the Bolivar Channel. Everyone is out on deck. There is a good chance of seeing dolphins, and even though we have already seen many, we are all excited about the possibility. And we aren't disappointed. Half way across the channel we see them coming towards us, jumping out of the water and swimming up alongside the boat. A few make a break for the bow and ride the bow waves for a few minutes before angling off and disappearing. They're gone, just as fast as they appeared. And we continue on...

Cruising on the Sulidae...
© Jeff Waugh
Cruising on the Sulidae

To Tagus Cove

 

 

 

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GALAPAGOS GUIDED TOUR

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Marine Iguana

 

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