Fernandina Island - Surbound
Galapagos Flightless Cormoran on Fernandian Island.

The 642 km 2 or 248 mi 2 Fernandina Island is the westernmost island in the Galapagos Islands. This island is the most volcanically active and sits at the center of the hot spot that created the Galapagos Islands. Fernandina Island is considered one of the youngest islands with less than one million years old. Since the establishment of the Galapagos National Park, there have been 13 recorded eruptions on Fernandina, with some of them lasting for several days. The most recent eruptions were in May of 2005 and April 2009. Fernandina Island is most famous for its continuing series of volcanic eruptions. Many of the early visitors to the archipelago commented on dramatic changes in the landscape, between visits. Another important historical event was the discovery and collection in 1906 by Rollo Beck of the California Academy of Sciences Expedition of the only giant tortoise ever found on Fernandina Island.

Fernandina Island remains the most active and most pristine of the Galapagos volcanoes. Except for a single visitor site on the northeast edge of the island, the island is maintained in its pristine state. Fernandina has a large land iguana population.

Fernandina is the most pristine of the Galapagos Islands. Except for a single visitor site on the northeast edge, the island is maintained in its pristine state.

Due to the cold, upwelling waters of the subsurface Cromwell Current that hits the archipelago from the west where it is pushed to the surface, the waters surrounding Fernandina and western Isabela Island are the richest waters in the archipelago. These cold waters also provide prime habitat for both Flightless Cormorants and Galapagos Penguins.

Galapagos Hawk on Fernandina Island - Surbound
Galapagos Hawk on Fernandina Island

Conservation  Challenges

Fernandina Island is the most pristine of the Galapagos Islands. Two species of the endemic rice rats are found there. The majority of rice rat species on the other islands went extinct following the introduction of Black and/or Norway Rats. Fernandina and Genovesa Island are the only larger islands that have never had introduced mammals.

Fernadina Island has only one visit and it is called Punta Espinoza. The highlights along the coast include Marine Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants. The Marine Iguanas nest here in the early part of the year with young emerging around June. At that time, snakes are commonly seen in the nesting zone. Other attractions include penguins, sea lions, Sally Lightfoot Crabs, and occasionally Galapagos Hawks and land iguanas.

Fernandian Isand Rice Rat on Fernandina Island - Surbound
Fernandina Island Rice Rat

Punta Espinosa is also one of the best places to see the Lava Cactus. One of the first species to grow on young lava, it can survive with very little water. Two dive sites are also located on Fernandina. The first is adjacent to the land site at Punta Espinosa and the second further to the south at Punta Mangle. Both are good sites for observing Flightless Cormorants and Galapagos Penguins, sea horses, marine iguanas, sea turtles, and various species of sharks and rays.