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While we were exploring the Galapagos, we made an exciting stop at Tortuga island before arriving at Isabela Island. Tortuga Island is only accessible by boat, and viewed from the boat.

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Why “Tortuga” Island

The name “Tortuga Island” comes from the appearance of the island. The island is a collapsed volcano, the way the volcano collapsed and changed over time has left a piece of land, which from a certain angel looks like a giant tortoise (tortuga in Spanish) with its back and head sticking out of the water. But the island is not known for its tortugas, Tortuga Island is famous for its seabirds.

As we were approaching the island it looked like an interesting but barren piece of land rising sharply out of the water. The shape of the main part of the island reminded me of a giant horseshoe. It is narrow and curved in a U shape. There are cliffs on all sides and a relatively flat area along the top. It was a beautiful sight in itself, but as we got closer we were able to see a flurry of activity.

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Image copyright of Google Earth

Lots And Lots Of Sea Birds

There were many different types of sea birds flying to and from the island, others circling above it and diving into the water around it. We saw birds nesting on the rocks and hungry babies waiting for the catch of the day. A highlight for me was seeing a hungry young Frigate bird being fed, its father swept in landing right in the nest, opened its beak really wide and gave up its meal. I felt like I was in a nature documentary.

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It’s easy to see whey the birds have chosen Tortuga Island as their nesting grounds. It’s out in the water by itself and the cliffs make it very difficult for any other creature to get to. I think they must feel safe there, and can go about their lives undisturbed.

Sea lions also use Tortuga Island as a resting spot. We saw lots of them lounging on the rocks at the base of the cliffs. Maybe they were members of an elite birding club, if so imagine the stories they could share!

It really was stunning to see the sun on the cliffs and the birds flying everywhere, to hear the waves crashing and the birds crying, and to see the lazy sea lions taking it all in.

I’ve heard that Tortuga Island also makes a good dive spot. I haven’t done any diving yet but maybe someday.

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Wide angle view of Tortuga Island, Galapagos.

Have you been to Tortuga island, above or below the waves? Please tell us about it by commenting on this post.

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