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Fernandina Island, Galapagos

Overview

Fernandina Island is located at the westernmost point of the archipelago. It is the youngest geologically and the most volcanically active of the Galapagos, as it is located very close to its tectonic plate hot spot. The island is about 17.4 miles (27.8 km) wide and 21.12 miles (34.9 km) long, making it the third largest in the Galapagos. It is home to a wide variety of fauna, such as large populations of marine iguanas, sea lions, and flightless cormorants, unlike its flora, which is rather limited.

The island’s Spanish name, Fernandina, honors King Ferdinand of Spain, who was the sponsor of Christopher Columbus’ voyage. Fernandina has no human inhabitants, which keeps the island in pristine condition, but it is frequently visited by tourists who come to see its unique wildlife and lava landscapes.

Fernandina’s arid terrain is composed mainly of lava flows and volcanic rock, making flora mostly scarce. Aside from the mangroves, which occupy a large area in Fernandina, a plant unimaginably made its way to grow and survive in this harsh place known as the lava cactus. Its last eruptive process was recorded in 2020. Eruptions are frequently accompanied by a cloud of ash and steam that forms with pyroclastic flows descending the volcano’s slopes, reaching the sea.