Isabela Island is one of the youngest in the Galápagos Islands and is the most volcanically active. Originally named Albemare Island, after the Duke of Albemare in 1684, Isabela is also the largest island in the archipelago, measuring 120 kilometres (74.5 miles) in length.
Punta Vicente Roca lies on the edge of one of Isabela’s six shield volcanoes, Volcano Ecuador, which is almost 800 meters high. Half of Volcano Ecuador slid into the water at Punta Vicente Roca, leaving a spectacular cutaway view of the volcanic caldera.
Blue footed boobies are regularly seen diving into the water below the cliffs, fishing for sardines and anchovies. They then dive ‘en masse’ at speeds of up to 97 kilometres per hour (60 miles per hour) from heights of over 20 metres (66 feet) to catch the fish in their serrated bills. Blue footed boobies’ nostrils are permanently closed, allowing them to swim underwater and they have air sacs in their skulls, which protect their brains from the impact of these dives.
The mola mola (also known as sunfish) is often spotted in the waters around Punta Vicente Roca. It is the world’s largest bony fish and can reach over four meters (13 feet) high, over three meters (10 feet) long and can weigh over 2,000 kilograms (4,400 pounds). Mola molas are clumsy swimmers and waggle their large dorsal fin and anal fins to move through the water, steering with their clavus. Despite this clumsiness they are able to breach the water and jump heights of up to three meters in order to try to shake off skin parasites. They feed on jellyfish and other smaller fish, as well as large amounts of zooplankton and algae.
At the end of the bay is a sea cave, where green sea turtles are regularly seen popping their heads out of the crystal blue water. The green sea turtle is a reptile whose ancestors evolved on land and took to the sea about 150 million years ago. It are one of the few species so ancient that it watched the dinosaurs evolve and become extinct. It is a large sea turtle measuring over a meter and a half and weighing over 300 kilograms (660 pounds) when fully grown and can live for up to eighty years.