From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos July 7, 2010
Rising out of the ocean, the volcanoes of the western waters of the archipelago surprised us this morning, finally we are able to understand what oceanic islands look like, most of them are made of one volcano, but in Isabela’s case the island has been formed by six volcanoes that have joined together. Isabela or Albermarle, as it’s also known, is a very young geological formation. Since it is young, it has all the iconic species the Galápagos are famous for. Today we had an amazing time witnessing the wildlife here. Galápagos penguins, flightless cormorants and Pacific green sea turtles shared their home with us. Snorkeling with them in Punta Vicente Roca was a marvelous experience, giving us a life changing opportunity.
As we navigated to Vicente Roca, we were magically surprised by feeding Bryde’s whales, also know as Tropical whales. They are normally shy and swim away from us, but today they couldn’t care less about our presence. They just kept feeding right in front of the bow of our ship, allowing us to see every detailed motion of their show.
Fernandina, the most pristine island of the Galápagos is known us the jewel of the crown, it is also the youngest out of the incredible islands. As we started our afternoon walk, hundreds of marine iguanas blocked our way, enjoying life and sun bathing. They ignored our presence, giving us the opportunity to observe their large groups. Watching them sneeze salt and emerge from the water onto this pre-historic landscape brought us back in time.
Today, an extremely low tide kept all kinds of creatures in the tide pools, baby sea lions learning how to fish, eagle rays resting and sea turtles resting and feeding around the algae beds. As we were enjoying our expedition some of us spotted Tropical whales. We got in our Zodiacs and headed to explore the show. It was the perfect scenario with the giant volcanoes surrounding us as we encountered 15 of the Tropical whales in open water. There were so many of them breaching everywhere, we couldn’t choose just one to look at. One of the whales surprised us by swimming about 9 feet under our Zodiac. This allowed us to see details of its colors and shape, even its eye was visible. The whale was being followed by an enormous cow nose golden ray 12 feet long. Soon we had a male Orca in front of our bow attacking one of the whales. We could not believe what our eyes were watching, all of this in just a couple of minutes: Wow! Once again were proud to say, these are the Enchanted Islands! Amazing experiences like these made us realize that these islands are a true treasure that deserves to be conserved in time, not just for future generations of visitors but for ourselves. We need to keep this almost undisturbed place pristine for the sake of all who share our blue planet!
As we headed back to the ship at sunset, a school of Yellow fin tuna were spotted jumping out of the water, giving us a great farewell and leaving us with the feeling of harmony from the place we just visited.
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