Galápagos Close-Up: Isabela

While many people associate the Galápagos with Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution, what they may not realize is that the islands themselves evolve over time as well.   The tectonic plates that caused the volcanic eruptions that became islands continue to move eastward at the rate of a few inches a year. 

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Northwest Coast of Isabela Island

One of the westernmost islands, Isabela is the largest of the archipelago (approximately 1800 square miles). The island’s shape resembles a large seahorse with Fernandina tucked in between its snout and tail (check it out on this map).
iguanapelicangeology_isabelaThe geology shows the changes wrought by erosion and explosion over the millennia.  geology-and-penguinsMore incredible geology as well as a first glimpse of  the Galápagos Penguins that gives an idea of their diminutive stature: 19″ and under five pounds! Many more photos and info on them in a future post.penguinposse_isabelaThe gregarious brown pelicans greeted us almost everywhere we went and their antics provided a lot of amusement.

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Coming in for a Landing!
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Pelican soaring over a Flightless Cormorant

One of the more unusual fauna in the Galápagos, the flightless cormorant  is endemic to the Galápagos and found only on Isabela and Fernandina islands. It is the largest cormorant but also the only one that has lost its ability to fly.

The Brown Noddy, a member of the tern family, blended in so well that it was only in reviewing pictures that we realized just how many there were.

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Brown Noddy birds and Sally Lightfoot Crabs

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The Blue Footed Booby has an almost regal look in contrast with its hysterical name. The bluer the feet, the more attractive the male as a prospective mate.

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We saw hundreds of these birds, and acres of their guano, too!

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Isabela is also home to the Galápagos Land Iguana which can grow up to five feet long and 25 pounds.  As with so many other endemic species, its camouflage makes it difficult to spot (unless it is crossing the path as above).

darwinlake_isabela

Darwin Lake lies in a volcanic crater a few hundred feet above Tagus Cove. It is an easy two-kilometer walk and provides wonderful vistas across Isabela. The trees in the foreground are Palo Verde, one of the few species to grow on the Galápagos. Within a few weeks of this shot, the first rains came and the branches erupted in green.

Next up: Fernandina, the newest island and Isabela’s closest neighbor.

If you missed the overview of this amazing trip, check out: Seven Wonders of The Galápagos!

 

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