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Espinosa Point - Fernandina Island

Fernandina, the youngest of the Galapagos Islands, is always a visitor favorite, as it is very beautiful and is home so several species rarely found anywhere else. Punta Espinosa is one of the best visitor sites in the islands, featuring marine iguanas, lava lizards, Galapagos Penguins, flightless cormorants, sea lions and interesting marine life. It is also a great chance to get an up-close look at mangrove plants and different lava formations.

Depending on the tides, the landing will either take place on a small pier or on some rocks: it's dry either way and you'll want some good walking shoes. As you come in to Punta Espinosa, be sure to look out for sea turtles in the shallow bay. If you land on the rocks, you'll see several tidal pools of varying sizes. Check these out: tidal pools are often teeming with life including small fish, molluscs and more. If you're very lucky, a sea turtle or ray may be trapped in the pool, which can often make for good photos.

After you poke around the tidal pools for a while, you'll head towards the main part of the visit. You'll pass a large colony of marine iguanas. Although they're not as large or colorful as the ones on Española, their sheer numbers are bound to impress you: there are thousands of marine iguanas on Punta Espinosa alone. A little further ahead there is a park marker: some naturalists have left some whale bones there and you may get to see them.

At the marker, the trail divides, heading to the left or to the right. To the right, it wends around some iguana burrows: watch out, don't step on the eggs! As you go along the trail, on your right, you may see some sea lions. At times, there will be cute pups there. The trail continues to where several flightless cormorants have their nests. This remarkable bird is only found in western Galapagos, and experts estimate that they may only be a few hundred individuals in total.

The trail goes around to a small cove, where it is common to see sea turtles. Watch your step on the rocks, as the iguanas blend in very well. The trail passes by the marker again and heads off into some mangroves. After you pass the mangroves, your guide will point out the different sorts of lava which make up this part of the islands. If you have sharp eyes, you may spot a snake in this area.

The path leads to a shallow, sandy area where a hunk of metal machinery sits, half buried. It is from a ship that sank in this area decades ago. The trail continues to a series of larger tidal pools, where there is a chance of seeing sea turtles or large rays that have become trapped. There are many pools, so wander around a little to see them all.

All the time, you should keep your eyes open for the Galapagos penguin, which lives in the area and is occasionally spotted on Punta Espinosa. All in all, this fairly easy visit should last around three very pleasurable hours.

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