Dry season is just ahead!
Amazing changes in Galapagos start with the arrival of winds
Although the Galapagos Islands are geographically located right in the tropics of the East Pacific Ocean, and our geography teachers taught us there are no seasons in the tropics, well, let me surprise you with the idea that there are seasons in some parts of the tropics, and these are markedly different. Galapagos shows two distinctive weather patterns: a hot season from December-May and a dry season from June-November.
But, how can a dry season occur in the tropics?
For many this is quite a shocking explanation, but for about eight months, there are winds that start blowing strongly down in Antarctic latitudes and move efficiently along the west coast of South America, creating some massive upwelling of nutrients, which is why Chile, Peru, and Ecuador have such vast fisheries. This ocean current is the Humboldt Current, technically known as the Peru Coastal Current. Winds eventually reach subtropical & tropical latitudes, mix with other water masses, and rapidly shift direction towards the west as equatorial latitudes spin faster due to the Coriolis effect, where Earth’s gyre is faster!. This mix of currents forms the SEC (South Equatorial Current), which moves from east to west. This oceanographic reality can easily explain how some species got to the Galapagos Islands in the first place.
As long as the winds continue blowing, cooler water will arrive. Many scholars, though, agree that when these conditions start to gradually appear in the islands, the islands develop a somewhat period of transition. This has been aptly called “transition months”, and although the islands are worth visiting any time of the year, it is quite unique to witness what goes on in April, May and June. Right now, for example, the trade winds from the south east are still weak within the geographic location of the islands, but the water has cooled off just a couple of degrees and that is enough to trigger productivity at the microscopic level (plankton-phytoplankton & zooplankton). This will provide blooming conditions for larger marine creatures, and then the whole food chain will explode in a myriad of behavioral changes that translate into courtship rituals, mating, and the evolutionary need of continuing the legacy of a species. Galapagos has just gone wild in all directions!
sets a red carpet in North Seymour just for you!
Yacht La Pinta offers three itineraries for deep exploring the islands, and one follows the name with a full week of exploring the archipelago. The first island of this itinerary is North Seymour (very few miles away from the local airport of Baltra-South Seymour), and it will provide you with a mighty-fine red carpet of experiences, since Naturalists agree this is one of the most magnificent islands to start a Galapagos voyage. The reasons are overwhelming: uplifted island from an ancient sea floor, nesting colony for swallow-tail gulls, blue-footed boobies, magnificent frigatebirds, resting area for sea lions, basking grounds for marine iguanas, and to top the list of wildlife one of the most remarkable nesting areas for land iguanas. This itinerary starts every Friday and for a week it will delight explorers with unique vistas and wildlife encounters, as older and younger islands will be visited.
Connect the dots now and you can only get a voyage of a lifetime: active wildlife encounters, remarkable weather as the two seasons blend in April, May and June, and, an extravagant mix of volcanic landscapes. You cannot miss this unique adventure on board Yacht La Pinta.
Text & Photography by Francisco Dousdebés – Galapagos Expert, North Seymour, April 4th, 2016 – 0°39’S / 90°28’W