The Galapagos Islands are known as one of the seven underwater wonders of the world and Darwin and Wolf Islands are the best of the Galapagos archipelago site, one of the best places to dive and enjoy a breathtaking underwater adrenaline rush in the whole world! These islands are inhabited by a variety of marine creatures such as dolphins, sharks, whales, fish and more. Additionally there are many species of birds that nest on the cliffs such as the Galapagos penguin, sparrow hawk, blue-footed boobies, among others. It is also surrounded by volcanic rock. What to expect to begin to enjoy and live a unique experience in these amazing islands.
Below is more information, so you can visit these islands near Galapagos.
Galapagos has received national and international recognition. In fact, the islands went from being a World Heritage Site in danger to becoming a recognized heritage site for the best preserved natural areas worldwide, declared a true scientific laboratory by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). This last distinction was made in August 2016, during the third World Conference on Marine Heritage.
Darwin and Wolf Islands, known as Wenman and Culpepper, are two eroded volcanoes located in the volcanic chain. Wolf reaches a maximum elevation of 250 meters and Darwin with 165 meters above sea level. A scientific study conducted by marine researchers from the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) revealed that Darwin and Wolf Islands, located northwest of the Galapagos Islands, are considered a single ecological unit with the highest shark biomass on the planet, with an average of 17.5 tons per hectare. Darwin and Wolf Islands have high ecological value and economic importance for the diving and tourism industry.
This area, declared by the Ecuadorian government as a Marine Sanctuary last March 21, contains the largest biomass of sharks on the planet and receives the only migration of whale sharks in gestation. This declaration and Ecuador’s commitment to the conservation of the planet have been recognized internationally.
Shark species to spot here include: Scalloped Hammerhead, Galapagos Shark, Whitetip and Blacktip Reef Sharks, Dusky and Silky Sharks, and much more besides. In very few other dive sites on earth will you find such a large volume and diversity of sharks together. The whale shark is one of the largest shark species in the world’s oceans today. Large manta rays are an excellent choice on any diver’s wish list, while golden rays, eagle rays and stingrays are also common sightings.
Tropical reef fish abound here, with sailfish, barracuda, scorpionfish, hogfish, parrotfish and trumpetfish, to name just a few. Also keep an eye out for the rare red-lipped batfish. Seabirds such as Nazca booby, red-footed booby, swallow-tailed gull and sooty tern. Land birds include the rare Vampire Finch and Darwin’s Nightingale.
The island’s original English name comes from another English naturalist, Lord Culpepper.
Darwin is the northernmost island of the Galapagos archipelago, located more than 100 miles northwest of Isabela Island. In fact, the entire island is an extinct volcano believed to have formed at the bottom of the ocean between 400,000 and 1.6 million years ago. On this island you can visit Darwin’s arch, it is a legend in world diving circles, the currents here are very strong, but your dive guide will prepare you for this activity. It is also possible to dive in El Arenal on the north side of Darwin’s Arch and in El Arco to the south.
Wolf Island, like Darwin, has no landing sites, but makes up for it with a wide range of spectacular dive sites.
Wolf is an extinct underwater volcano whose peak emerges from the ocean to form the island we see today. Wolf Island of the Galapagos is surrounded by dive sites of volcanic platforms, cliffs and underwater caves, teeming with diverse marine creatures.
Wolf Island is extremely dry for much of the year, so the enterprising Vampire Finch has developed a unique way to survive. Surprisingly, they have adapted to suck the blood of larger seabirds such as boobies. They literally pierce a hole in the booby’s skin to drain the blood, and often line up to take turns in this macabre feeding. Vampire finches have also been observed eating unprotected booby eggs for moisture.
The places you can visit on this island are the Shark Bay, the slip (The landslide), the pinnacle, North Islet (The banana), the elephant, the Anchorage.
To visit these islands there is no best or worst time to visit Darwin and Wolf in Galapagos, the weather is a very important consideration when planning your trip, in the month of June to November is known as the cool and dry season. During these months the cold Humboldt Current dominates from Antarctica, filling the Galapagos waters with rich nutrients. Whale sharks and smaller shark species congregate in great volume to enjoy this veritable feast. The downside of this time of year is that the waters are colder and the currents stronger, making diving a challenge.
The warm and humid months from January to May, when the water temperature is more pleasant and the currents manageable, is the best time to see hammerhead sharks and manta rays.
To visit these islands you have to arrive by dive cruise, specialized dive yachts such as the Aggressor III, Galapagos Sky, Humboldt Explorer and Aqua run dedicated Galapagos dive itineraries to Darwin and Wolf, with all the diving equipment you will need for the trip, plus a naturalist dive guide.
In this protection zone, fishing and any other extractive activity is completely prohibited, and only those uses established in the Galapagos Islands zoning system are allowed.
Charles Darwin Fundation (s,f)