Reflections and images from my travels

Genovesa Island (Tower Island) is a shield volcano in the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The island occupies about 14 square kilometres (5 sq mi), and its maximum elevation is 64 m (210 ft). The horse-shoe shaped island has a volcanic caldera whose wall has collapsed, forming the Great Darwin Bay, surrounded by cliffs. Lake Arcturus, filled with salt water, lies in the centre, and sediment within this crater lake is less than 6,000 years old. Although no historical eruptions are known from Genovesa, there are very young lava flows on the flanks of the volcano.

This island is known as Bird Island, because of the large and varied bird colonies which nest here. There are an abundance of Frigate birds and it is among the best place in the archipelago to see Red-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, storm petrels, tropicbirds, Darwin’s finches, and Galapagos Mockingbirds.

Prince Philip’s Steps is an extraordinary steep path that leads through a seabird colony full of life, up to cliffs that are 25m high. At the top, the trail continues inland, passing more seabird colonies in a thin palo santo forest. The trail also provides overviews of a rocky plain. Storm petrels here are different from any others in the world because they are active during the day. To avoid predators, they only return to their nest holes at night.

The smallest Marine Iguana in the archipelago lives here.

Our inaugural deep water snorkel occurred in the afternoon. I had specially purchased a mask and snorkel for this trip so it was a good opportunity to try out the new equipment. I had a new type of snorkel that automatically has a valve close when you submerge the top of the snorkel in water and then opens up when the top of the snorkel is above water. This is all supposed to work beautifully but when I initially used this snorkel and breathed in while snorkelling the valve closed excessively easily so I could not breathe! This is not generally recommended when your head is underwater! After about 15 minutes, panicked breathing and several gulps of seawater and numerous expletives; it started to work properly and continued to do so for the remainder of the trip, thankfully! Snorkeling is one of the great joys of traveling to the Galapagos. I had never experienced this activity prior to the visit in 2008. I strongly recommend anyone coming to the Galapagos, or to any location where you can snorkel, to try this activity. It is absolutely amazing!. By the way, also bring a small waterproof camera for pictures and video underwater. I did bring an underwater camera I had originally purchased in 2008 for the prior Galapagos trip. Even though the water was very murky at this location, I did take several pictures and a couple of videos. You will not see any examples from this camera because as we were traveling back to the yacht and I was attempting to show Erin (Richard’s oldest daughter) some of my award-winning underwater video, the camera would not turn on. When I got back to the yacht and examined the camera it appeared water was able to get past the seal into the camera battery compartment. Not good! It died a good death (despite my attempts to revive it in “camera ICU” which involves a plastic baggie and dried rice)! It just goes to show you nothing lasts forever and I presume the seal over time simply dried out and cracked. Guy, one of our group members, was good enough to lend me his underwater camera to use and try on subsequent snorkels. It appears another purchase will occur in the near future!


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