From the National Geographic Polaris, January 6, 2009
Isabela & Fernandina Islands
Marine iguana at Punta Espinoza, Fernandina Island
Early in the morning today, all our guests were very excited when they heard through the P.A. system that in just few minutes they would be crossing the Equator line. We all went to the bow of the ship or to the bridge to witness the event. Inside the bridge our Captain made the countdown. Just exactly at the moment we crossed the line, the horn of the National Geographic Polaris blew, telling us that we were in the southern hemisphere.
After this amusing happening, we continued sailing to our destination: Punta Vicente Roca on Isabela Island. In this place we boarded our fleet of Zodiacs and had a successful ride along the outside part of the caldera of Ecuador Volcano. We observed during the ride the famous Galápagos Penguin and the flightless cormorants. We saw the oceanic Sunfish (Mola mola) as well. After the Zodiac ride we came back on board to put on our snorkel gear and go swimming with marine sea turtles. All our guests who took part in this outing had the unforgettable experience of observing the sea turtles at a very close range. All the snorkelers came back very happy.
In the afternoon we explored the Fernandina Island the youngest one in the Galápagos archipelago. This island is only 300,000 years old; compared with other older islands we can say that, geologically speaking, it is just a baby!
During the walk we observed the biggest marine iguana colonies we have in Galápagos. Some Flightless cormorants were resting just by the trail. We had some time to explore the intertidal zone as well; there we saw marine sea turtles that were momentarily trapped by the tide. Almost at the end of our walk around the black lava fields we felt we were inside a different world. Breaking the wonderful dark monotony we were surprised to find some color. An amazing plant grows there directly on the lava, the endemic lava cactus (Brachyscereus sp.) that can grow in lava fields that are only a few hundreds years old. We all were very surprised how this plant can survive in such an isolated and dry place.
We all came back happily on board with the company of the last sun rays leaving behind Fernandina Island.