Sara Maxwell in the Galapagos Islands, Equador--I've arrived back to Puerto Ayora from Isla Fernandina and it was a true adventure! I'll spend the next few blogs getting you caught up on our adventures, starting with our trip to Fernandina....
After frantic last-minute preparations, we boarded the L/P Guadalupe River on Tues Oct 29. We were hitching a ride to Fernandina via the Galapagos National Park as they made one of their regular trips to the more remote islands to rotate park guards in and out of the various stations on Wolf and Isabela Islands.
View of Puerto Ayora from the boat
The Fernandina field crew: Jana, David and Maria
During our 6 weeks on Fernandina, we would have a satellite for emergencies, but no other communication with the outside world. So as we pulled away from the town, we all made last minute calls and text messages to friends and family, but shortly thereafter the excitement began!
I think this is Isla Santa Fe
We passed a number of islands and saw seabirds galore - including waved albatrosses! - and even spotted humpback whales and false killer whales before the sun set.
Overnight, we crossed the Equator, and awoke shortly before arriving to Wolf Island. This is one of the northernmost and remote of the Galapagos Islands and truly spectacular. With huge cliffs, there was no visible way to actually get on the island that we could see. There is a permanent park presence there, and the guards live on a boat moored alongside the island.
Can you see the tiny boat against the massive cliffs?
This should put in perspective just how high the cliffs are
Wolf is uninhabited by humans, but it is a metropolis for birds. There are literally birds EVERYWHERE and it is one of the largest breeding rookeries for a number of species like swallow-tailed gulls, Nazca boobies and the rare red-footed booby. The population of birds on this small island probably numbers in the hundreds of thousands.
Swallow-tailed gul - notice the beautiful red eye ring!
Red-footed booby - they do have bright red feet - and crazy blue bills!
Looking up into the sky, the birds were literally countless at all times and the noise was overwhelming there were so many of them - calling Wolf an 'uninhabited' island just doesn't really make sense somehow.
Hundreds of birds swarm a small part of the sky around Wolf near sunset
Wolf Island; beyond Wolf we could see Darwin Island the northernmost Galapagos island (not pictured)
We moored off of Wolf until late into the night so that we would arrive to Fernandina in the day light. This meant that we watched the first of many spectacular sunsets in the Galapagos from the boat at this amazing place. And finally the moon rose over Wolf, on its way to being full in time for our arrival to Fernandina. The trip was off to an incredible start...
Sunsetting at Wolf Island