Our journey continues, setting sail at 3 A.M. we navigate around the island Marchena and on to the largest island in the Galapagos, Isabela. Shaped like a seahorse Isabela accounts for half the land mass of the islands. Our first landing – Punta Albemarle, the Northern most point on Isabela.
I’ve used the word endemic a few times already and the flightless cormorant typifies this concept.
From our friends at Wikipedia –
“Endemism is the ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location, such as an island, nation, country or other defined zone, or habitat type; organisms that are indigenous to a place are not endemic to it if they are also found elsewhere.”
Many, Many, Many years ago when these guys landed in the Galapagos, they discovered they had very few land predators. Through natural selection, and lots of years, they lost their ability to fly. As you can see above, the wings are pretty weak! They are the largest of the 29 types of cormorant and the only one that cannot fly, but boy, can they swim! And …. they are endemic to the Galapagos. There are an estimated 1000 breading pairs on Isabela and Fernandina.
We were fortunate enough to see quite a few nesting birds with both eggs and very new chicks, like, days old!
After our visit with the cormorants, we cruised through the mangroves to see what there was to see.
Just a couple we saw on the way out.