Isabela: Caleta Tagus by Panga

Tuesday, 10 July (Part III)

After the deepwater snorkel participants returned to the ship, the Xpedition remained at anchor in Caleta Tagus for the next activity of the afternoon.  Tagus Cove, by the way, was named for a British naval vessel that moored here in 1814 to look for giant tortoises, a favored source of meat for seafarers of yon.

The arrow points to the site of our two afternoon activities.
[map courtesy of the website]

There were two options given for the post-snorkel activities — a long fitness walk and short zodiac ride vs an extended zodiac ride and short walk.  We opted for the latter.  Not because the first option was difficult; it wasn’t.  We just wanted a slower pace to appreciate what we were seeing and doing.

To keep the number of people on the trail manageable, the last couple of groups to leave the ship did the zodiac ride first.  The panga hugged the rocky shoreline where the wave action was strong, but our driver managed to give us a relatively steady ride.  This option was definitely the better choice for us as we saw quite a bit of wildlife perched on shore, including flightless cormorants drying out their wings after a swim.

A sally lightfoot crab trods over a barnacle-covered rock.
barnacles are related to crabs and lobsters.  The nutrient-rich, cold waters of
Bolivar Channel, where the Cromwell current upwells, is an ideal habitat for them.

From its size, I’d guess this is a young marine iguana.  the A. c. albemarlensis, Named for
rulers of spain, is a different species from the iguanas we saw on Santiago yesterday.

Brown Pelican — breeding adult (left) and Flightless Cormorant.

the iconic pose of a flightless cormorant shows its stubby, useless-for-flight wings.
some sources say that cormorants use this posture to dry their wings, others
believe it aids thermoregulation, digestion, and balancing.

Note the fuzz on the wings of the flightless cormorant center right;
this is a juvenile that is just shedding its baby down.

Like other penguin species, the Galápagos penguin is monogamous and mates for life.
Less social than the other species, they live in pairs or small groups of 5-6 penguins.
the small population of 2,000 or so penguins are concentrated mostly around
Isabela and fernandina islands where the cromwell upwelling brings the colder,
nutrient-rich  waters of the humboldt current to the surface.

The great blue heron is not endemic to the archipelago.  It is believed to have arrived
here from Central America or extreme northwestern Ecuador, where it is rare.

This marine iguana is getting the ‘spa treatment’ from a Darwin’s Finch.

The Nazca Booby is sufficiently different from the masked booby so as to be
considered a separate species Nearly endemic to the Galápagos Islands.

Compared to the blue-footed boobies we saw at Elizabeth Bay, these birds have
less yellow on their iris; this identifies them as female.

The eroded cliff ledges make a good resting spot for sea lions and marine iguanas.

From this point, we continued onto the land portion of our afternoon activity … coming up in the next post.


  1. I do love the blue-footed boobies. They seem so iconic of your destination. Beautiful photographs, Erin, as usual.

  2. LOVE that shot of the crab on the barnacles!!