Marchena & Genovesa
are three small islets in the northern group of islands in the Galapagos.
Genovesa, known as Tower Island, is a fascinating island both geologically and biologically. Curiously, the chemistry of its lavas is virtually identical to lavas that erupt at mid-ocean ridges (a magma type called MORB, or mid-ocean-ridge-basalt) and quite different from most oceanic island lavas.
Genovesa is an ornithographer's dream. Nesting birds may be seen there, including masked boobies, red-footed boobies, Galapagos owls, frigates, swallow-tail gulls, lava herons, and the rare lava gulls. Also to be seen there are sea lions and fur seals. The fur seal, actually a species of sea lion rather than a true seal, was nearly hunted to extinction by the early part of the twentieth century, but has recovered.
ePrince Philip's Steps
Marchena, or Bindloe is a large shield volcano. Marchena, too, has lavas like Genovesa -- similar to those of mid-ocean ridge basalts. It's an interesting geological formation.
Marchena has had a lot of volcanic activity, though there is only one known eruption which occurred in 1992. Marchena has a caldera, like many islands. Marchena's caldera, however, has been almost completely filled with young lavas, some of which has spilled over and down the sides. The oldest lavas are 500,000 years old.
Marchena is rather desolate and has no fresh water and hence has never been settled, and its flora and fauna have not been disturbed by feral animals or introduced plants. Except for diving in the waters around it, it is off-limits to tourists and is therefore seldom visited. Tortoises have apparently never inhabited Marchena.
None -- off limits to visitors
Pinta is the third islet in the northern group of islands. Its lava is different from that of Marchena and Genovesa. Pinta's most famous inhabitant was Lonesome George. Due to whaling ships and buccanneers, many tortoise populations were destroyed. The introduction of goats on Pinta was probably the straw that broke the camel's back leaving one Pinta tortoise (as far as we know) in this world. Lonesome George is the last Pinta tortoise. (Yes, it sounds like a bad country western song, but its true). For years, scientists hoped to find him a mate, but alas, George is destined to life as a bachelor, and when he goes, so does his race. Now we are more concientious about the environment, but due to a careless past, another animal will become extinct. You can now visit Lonely George at the Charles Darwin Research station on Santa Cruz island.
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