Santiago Bejarano, co-founder of Think Galapagos, photographer and naturalist guide in Galapagos since 1992 describes what you can experience during September in the Galapagos Islands.
It was on the 15th of September 1835 that Charles Darwin arrived in Galapagos for the first time on board the HMS Beagle. This five week visit of the young Darwin, just 26 years old at the time would inspire his seminal work on the evolution of species, and change how we view ourselves and the natural world around us forever.
Galapagos is at the height of the dry season in September and the ground is rock hard, making it difficult for birds such as the Mockingbirds and Finches to find seeds and water. Both these species, which played a crucial role in the development of Darwin’s theory of evolution, epitomise the theory of “survival of the fittest” – the struggle to survive and be the individual that passes on their genes to the next generation. Ironically at the time of his visit, the Galapagos Finches failed to impress Darwin, and he wrote that “the few dull-colour birds cared no more for me than they did for the great tortoises”
September is a great time to see whales and dolphins in Galapagos as the Cromwell and South Equatorial Currents reach their peak this month. This means lots of nutrient-rich water is brought towards the ocean surface, making it an abundant feeding ground for marine life. You could see Minke, Sperm whales and even Humpback whales.
The abundance of food also means it is a great time for sea lions to deliver their pups, as female sea lions (known as cows) have food within easy reach which means more time nursing their pups. The seabirds are also all very busy this month feeding their chicks and taking advantage of the food rich water. The Waved Albatross, also known as Galapagos Albatross chicks, which live only on the island of Espanola, have grown very big and fluffy by September and are often left to fend for themselves as their parents head out to sea to look for food.
September is also a month when the Galapagos also really live up to their name as the ‘Enchanted Islands’. During this month the islands are right in the middle of the “garua” or dry season, with the islands covered in a veil of mist each morning giving them a mysterious and enchanted look.”
Darwin later wrote of his visit to the Galapagos,
“The natural history of these islands is eminently curious, and well deserves attention. Most of the organic productions are aboriginal creations [endemic species] found nowhere else; there is even a difference between the inhabitants of the different islands. Hence, both in space and time, we seem to be brought somewhat near to that great fact, that mystery of mysteries the first appearance of new beings on this earth.”
Charles Darwin, October 8, 1845