Genovesa Island - SurboundGenovesa Island is known as the “The Bird Island” because of the numerous and varied bird species that nest there. Among birds expected on Genovesa Island include

Frigatebirds, Nazca and Red-footed Boobies, Swallow-tailed Gulls, storm petrels, Red-billed Tropicbirds, finches, and mockingbirds, among others. Genovesa Island is among the few Galapagos Islands where Red-footed Boobies nest in large colonies. Red-footed Boobies are the smallest of the three booby species in Galapagos. It is estimated that more than 200,000 Red-footed Boobies live on Genovesa Island. Interestingly, there is not Galapagos Tortoises on Genovesa Island. The only reptile found here is as sub-species of Marine Iguana which happens to be the smallest of all Marine Iguanas on the Galapagos Islands.

Bird colony on Genovesa Island.
Bird colony on Genovesa Island.

Genovesa Island has an interesting geological history. As other islands on the archipelago, its shape was formed from the eruption of a shield volcano and the eventual collapse of one side of the caldera. The well-known Darwin Bay was precisely formed by a submerged crater, which is surrounded by steep cliffs that provide resting and nesting sites for many seabirds. No eruptions have ever been recorded for Genovesa Island, but there is evidence of young lava flows on the outskirts of the volcano.

Marine Iguanas on Genovesa Island
Marine Iguanas on Genovesa Island

A highlight on a visit to Genovesa Island is Darwin Bay Beach. Here coral beaches and tidal lagoons support Swallow-tailed Gulls (the only nocturnal gull species in the world), Lava Gulls, and Yellow-crowned and Lava Herons. The trail continues through Palo Santo trees, Opuntia cacti, and Saltbushes inhabited by Great Frigatebirds and Red-footed Boobies. Visitors are asked to watch their steps for nests and egg of Swallow-tailed Gull on the ground. This is one of the few places in the islands where visitors are guaranteed to see Red-footed Boobies.

Wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy the variety of birds using the crevices of the lava cliffs for shelter. Red-billed Tropicbirds fly overhead, and a small colony of tame and friendly fur seals may be found near the landing site. One highlight on a visit to Genovesa Island is walking through a seabird colony full of Nazca and Red-footed Boobies. The path leads to a plateau and passes more nesting booby colonies in the thin Palo Santo forest. Near the end of the trail, Wedge-rumped Storm Petrels fly in all directions. Short-eared Owl, which hunt during the day and night, may be seen watching for unsuspecting petrels.

Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel
Wedge-rumped Storm-Petrel

Snorkeling at the coral reefs around Darwin Beach is another highlight. The water is very nutrient-rich, so all types of marine life can be found. Numerous shark species are present, with hammerheads the most abundant. Sea lions, sea turtles, and the occasional Manta Ray can also be seen.