As we continued to the northwestern side of Santa Cruz Island, we encountered a different geographic setting. The coast was much drier than what we experienced on the southern side of the island yesterday. Here, Cerro Dragon is located. This is the home of the famous Galapagos land iguanas. They are unique to the archipelago and are distant cousins to marine iguanas. Cerro Dragon is a very dry place, and the dominant vegetation consists of palo santo trees, Opuntia cacti, thorny bushes, leather shrubs, and other desert plants. Land iguanas have made their home in this dry environment where they can find food and shelter in the burrows they dig. Cerro Dragon once faced the presence of feral dogs, which brought the small land iguana colony to the brink of extinction. Fortunately, the National Park service controlled the presence of these aggressive dogs and saved the iguana population. Nowadays, the iguanas are doing very well, and the population is growing healthier. We also observed marine iguanas on the coast, shorebirds around a brackish water lagoon, and the magnificent landscape. This volcanic landscape includes volcanic cones, turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and blue skies. Magnificent!
Not far from Cerro Dragon, we encountered a shoreline covered by mangroves, which offer shelter to animals. Turtles, rays, and sharks can feed, grow, and develop here. Additionally, birds such as boobies, pelicans, and herons are abundant along this beautiful coast. The best way to explore is by Zodiac and kayak. Kayaks allow us to enter the coves where abundant mangroves leave just enough room for the kayaks to paddle. It is such a peaceful, calm place!