From the National Geographic Islander in Galápagos July 15, 2010
Our expedition started today with a visit to Urbina Bay. Located at the lowlands of Alcedo Volcano, this place is one of the most, geologically speaking, mesmerizing places in Galápagos. In 1954, just a little bit longer than 50 years ago one-and-a-half square kilometers of the marine reef off the coast of the island was uplifted almost instantaneously, by as much as 12 feet! In addition to the many relics that this event left behind – like large amounts of coral out of the water inland – we can still find remains of skeletons of the many animals that were trapped in this sudden phenomenon. We explored the area in search of the brightly colored Galápagos land iguanas as well, and we were fortunate for we found aplenty. Some juvenile Galápagos giant tortoises amidst the exuberant vegetation were seen as well.
After the hike we enjoyed a nice cooling swim at the black sand landing beach. Our young explorers had an activity that they all loved – we took them for Zodiac driving lessons. Meanwhile, some guests opted to dive or swim from the ship.
In the afternoon, we visited even further south on Isabela Island at Punta Moreno. The volcanic landscape of this location is astonishing. A harsh-looking landscape of young pa-hoe-hoe lava fields with hidden oasis of lagoons surround by tall mangroves attracted the attention of some of our intrepid guests who opted to go on a hike in this remote and pristine location. For those who did not want to be part of the hike there was the option of a long Zodiac ride along the coastline of Punta Moreno; there we found several sea turtles, flightless cormorants and, rays. Ray sightings were particularly fantastic today. We spotted a large school of not less than 30 golden rays swimming slowly in the shallows. They looked just living autumn leaves that moved graciously underwater, it was a magical moment!
To top the day off, we had a spectacular sunset that marked the end of this memorable day of our expedition around this fascinating archipelago.