This is the third post of a five day hopscotch series. Join me each day this week as I share with you our discoveries in the Galápagos Islands.
Isla Fernandina is the third largest, and youngest, island of the Galápagos Islands. It is considered the most pristine of the Galápagos Islands and has had no species of mammals introduced, which sets it apart from most of the other islands in the archipelago.
The westernmost of the islands in the archipelago, it was named in honor of King Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored the voyage of Christopher Columbus. Like the other islands in the archipelago, it was formed by the hotspot and is an active shield volcano that has been erupting since April 11, 2009.
In 1968, the caldera underwent a collapse when parts of the caldera floor dropped 350 meters. Since then, a small lake has intermittently occupied the northern caldera floor, most recently in 1988. Due to the active volcano, there is not much plant life on this island and has a mostly rocky surface.
We landed at Punta Espinoza, a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of marine iguanas gather in large groups on black lava rocks. We had to be careful where we stepped because they literally carpeted the ground and camouflaged so well with the ʻaʻā and pāhoehoe.
Most of the lavas on Fernandina are ʻaʻā. Pahoehoe lavas on Fernandina are largely resticted to vents on the coast plain. ʻAʻā is extremely difficult to walk on, making the climb to the summit a difficult one, however, tourists are kept to the outskirts of the caldera.
A nesting colony of Flightless Cormorant inhabits this island and we were able to get remarkably close. Other endemic wildlife include Galápagos penguins, pelicans, Galápagos land iguanas, and sea lions. Mangrove forests abound on the fringes of the island.
Read my other posts in The Islands of the Galápagos series:
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