Spring breaking on Isabela Island Pt. 1

Between our 3rd and 4th modules, we have a week-long spring break in which we are free to hop between islands of the archipelago. This blog will cover my 1st day on Isabela Island when IES Abroad took us to snorkel Los Tuneles.

Geological Background

Formally known as the Cabo Rosa lava tunnels, Los Tuneles (The tunnels) formed millions of years ago from the lava flows of volcanoes on Isabela Island. These tunnels formed when lava flows made contact with water and became solidified on the outside, leaving their softer insides vulnerable to erosion.


Isabela Island is one of the few islands in the Galápagos archipelago where penguins can be spotted. The endangered Galápagos Penguin is one of the smallest in the world and it is endemic to the Galápagos Islands. Their colonies are found on the coastal lava formations of Isabela Island. Below, you can watch a short video clip where I caught 2 of them swimming–they’re really fast!

While penguins are really exciting, Los Tuneles also house the Galápagos Green Sea Turtle. The archipelago provides these turtles with very important nesting sites throughout the year. And yes, they’re gorgeous.

In the murky waters of Los Tuneles, you’ll also spot Blacktip Reef Sharks. These sharks are gentle creatures that won’t bother you (unless provoked) during the day. They feed during the night– at which point, you’re fair game.

In the shallower waters of Los Tuneles, you may also spot Golden Rays.

If you are observant, you’ll spot sea horses like the following:

If you’re unlucky like me, you’ll find yourself face to face with a moray eel. These eels are aggressive when they perceive danger, which is totally fair. In my case, I was obliviously nose-deep into this eel’s territory while trying to take pictures of another fish. I wouldn’t do that again, but at least I snapped this photo:

This blog post could go on forever, so I’ll let you swipe through some other pictures from snorkeling at Los Tuneles. Enjoy!

Published by ximena.figueroaenri

Class of 2023 Biology Major, Women Gender Studies Minor IES Galapagos Islands

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