This morning we woke up anchored in Urbina Bay. Urbina Bay is located on the western coast of Isabela Island in the Galápagos archipelago. It is known for its unique geological features, including a marine reef that was uplifted during a volcanic eruption in 1954. Our guests were able to visit this uplifted area and witness the amazing wildlife that has been established there in the past 70 years.
During our hike we saw land iguanas, finches, and a giant tortoise from Alcedo volcano, which happens to be the largest species of giant tortoise in the Galapagos. The males can weigh as much as 550 pounds!
Right after our hike we jumped in the ocean for a swim, together with the Galapagos penguins. We had a great morning, not only on land, but also on board since one of the naturalists gave a talk about the human history of the Galapagos right after we came back from the island. For lunch we enjoyed a great Ecuadorian meal.
During lunch we navigated to Tagus Cove, which is also situated on the western coast of Isabela Island. It is a natural harbor that was historically used as an anchorage by pirates and whalers. Today, it is a popular tourist destination where visitors can hike to a viewpoint overlooking the cove and see the graffiti left by past visitors on the cliffs. Here we kayaked, snorkeled and went for a Zodiac ride.
The two most emblematic species that we saw today were the Galapagos penguin and the flightless cormorant. We came all the way to the western side of the Galapagos to see them.
The Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is one of the smallest penguin species in the world and the only penguin species found north of the equator. They are endemic to the Galápagos Islands and are primarily found on Fernandina Island and Isabela Island. Galapagos penguins are adapted to warm weather and can tolerate the warm waters surrounding the islands. They feed on small fish and are known for their distinctive appearance with black and white plumage. The flightless cormorants (Phalacrocorax harrisi) are another unique species found in the Galápagos Islands. They are the only cormorant species that has lost the ability to fly completely. Instead, they have evolved to be excellent swimmers and divers. Flightless cormorants are restricted to a few locations in the Galápagos, including Fernandina Island and the western coast of Isabela Island. They have a distinct appearance, with black feathers, turquoise eyes, and bright red face.
What a great day we had in the western region!!!