Our visit to Isabela Island begins early in the morning. We are aboard Yacht la Pinta. Traveling from Seymour Island to Punta Vicente Roca (Isabela Island), took us almost 10 hours of navigation. This visitor site is known for hosting colonies of Galapagos fur seals, the nesting sites of Nazca boobies, not to mention flightless cormorants, penguins, and marine iguanas.
The marine iguanas that inhabit this island are 1 of the 7 sub-species of marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands and the largest in size. These iguanas are able to grow to be very large due to the high concentration of nutrients produced by the rich variety of seaweeds that grow underwater along the western coast of Isabela Island. It appears that male marine iguanas develop larger than normal size as a factor in sexual selection. Large males are more attractive to female iguanas.
Flightless cormorants can also be found at Punta Vicente Roca. On this occasion we found flightless cormorants nesting along the coast of the island. The Galapagos flightless cormorant is endemic to the islands. These birds are remarkable for being able to swim but not being able to fly. The male flightless cormorant, which is visibly larger than the female, has a record of submerging at depths of up to 74 meters and staying underwater for 4 and a half minutes.
Our coastal exploration began in the morning, along the coast, you could see how the rocks came alive. As we approached, we were struck by the number of marine iguanas and Galapagos fur seals moving among the rocks. The Nazca boobies were perching on the rocks and an impressive number of sea turtles were floating around us on all sides.
When it was time to start our snorkeling activity, we were all excited, ready to dive into the sea. The water temperature was at 23 degrees Celsius and there was excellent visibility. Because of the clear waters, we were able to marvel at the number of sea turtles. They were everywhere! Resting on the seafloor, resting on the sea surface, feeding on the shore, everywhere! Then a group of penguins appeared, following a school of fish. We watched them closely and were able to take some good videos. The tropical fish were everywhere, too! The magic of the Galapagos had captivated us.
Text by: Daniel Moreano