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Galapagos Expedition Journal: Genovesa Tower, Home to a Million Birds

To get to Genovesa from Bartolome, we had to cross the equator into the Northern Hemisphere, a stark reminder of the tropical location of the Galapagos archipelago. We approached the island, also known as Tower, as the sun rose. It appeared as if our ship was sailing directly into the side of a low cliff, until I realized that we were entering a breach in the walls of the island’s ancient caldera.

While we ate a light breakfast on the back deck of the Endeavour, the ship maneuvered through the entrance and came to a standstill somewhere near the center of the caldera. “Good morning,” Paula Tagle, our expedition leader, announced over the ship’s public address system, “we are inside a volcano.”

 

 

This was the last full day of our exploration of the Galapagos. Genovesa was for me the most enchanting of all the islands we saw, not only because we got to walk along the rim of the caldera, but because of the birds in tremendous profusion. And what birds they were: boobies of every kind, frigate birds, gulls, owls, mockingbirds, finches, pelicans. They were mating, nesting, roosting, sleeping, hunting, fighting. The sky was full of them arriving and departing from their feeding grounds. The noise they made, especially at sunset, was cacophonous. I’ve never experienced anything quite like Genovesa.

In this post, I will let the photos tell the story. In future posts, I will be interviewing some of the scientists National Geographic supports to do research and conservation in the Galapagos.

This is the ninth post in my account of a ten-day exploration of the Galapagos, on board the National Geographic Endeavour. In my previous post I wrote about the turtles and tropical penguins of Bartolome and Sombrero Chino islets. I was on the Lindblad-National Geographic Expedition as the National Geographic expert. (See all the Galapagos Expedition posts here.)

 

National Geographic Endeavour at anchor in the caldera. Photo by David Braun

 

A perfect place in the middle of the Pacific for seabirds to roost, mate, nest and raise their young. Photo by David Braun.

 

Red-footed booby at sunset on Genovesa. This is the only one of the three booby species of the Galapagos that has prehensile feet. Photo by David Braun.

 

Galapagos doves. Photo by David Braun.

 

Nazca boobies photo by David Braun.

 

Nazca booby nesting. Photo by David Braun.

 

Frigate bird harasses booby in flight. Frigates do this to rob boobies of the food they are bringing to their young. Photo by David Braun.

Frigate bird on the attack. Photo by David Braun

 

Photo of booby by David Braun

 

Photo of red-footed booby by David Braun

 

Photo of resting booby by David Braun

 

Brown pelican photo by David Braun.

 

Brown pelican photo by David Braun

 

Photo of mockingbird on cactus by David Braun.

 

Photo by David Braun

 

Photo of frigate bird chick by David Braun.

 

Photo by David Braun

 

Photo courtesy of Anthony Braun

 

Photo by David Braun

 

Photo by David Braun

 

In the absence of significant competing predators, this short-eared owl is able to hunt on Genovesa by day. Photo courtesy of Anthony Braun.

 

Photo by David Braun

 

Photo by David Braun

 

Photo by David Braun

 

The end of the day, and the birds start to get sleepy. Photo by David Braun.

 

Marine iguanas hug the warm rocks as the sun goes down on Genovesa. Photo by David Braun.

 

Photo by David Braun

 

Photo by David Braun

 

This was the last Zodiac to return to the Endeavour. Photo by David Braun.

 

Next time on Galapagos Expedition Journal: National Geographic Research and Exploration in the Galapagos.

 

Comments

  1. Liz Myles
    Re: Galápagos Islands Expedition
    December 9, 2012, 11:59 pm

    David, this whole journal has been a delight to read and I have loved the photographs. Thanks so much. I still find it hard to believe we were lucky enough to experience this wonderful place and have nothing but the highest regards for the staff of the Linblad/ National Geographic Expedition and would heartily recommend it to anyone considering taking this trip. It was an adventure of a lifetime.

    • David Braun
      December 10, 2012, 1:19 pm

      It is very kind of you to say so, Liz. Thanks to you also for making it a very special experience.