Isla Isabel

Category: Ships Log
 IslaIsabel Green Panther

Time period: Monday, 03/10/14 - Wednesday, 03/12/14

The wonders of a remote island inhabitated by birds and reptiles which are not afraid of humans.

We were not sure about this one. The remote island Isla Isabel is about 17 miles offshore and known as the Galapagos of Mexico due to its high populations of nesting birds and green iguanas. Natural predators are rare so the local fauna is not afraid of people. On the other hand our guide says that this rocky island has "swallowed" more anchors than any other place in Pacific Mexico. The rocky island has only two decent anchorages; both with rocky bottoms littered with larger boulders . This means it's not good holding ground for an anchor because the anchor cannot bury itself so it's easy to drag anchor and drift away if the wind picks up. Or in the worst case your anchor gets stuck between boulders or in rocky crevices and you have to say goodbye to it when leaving the island.

Thus we approached Isabel with mixed feelings, but  there was a sign. Right off the northern rock (Isleo Cerro Pelón) two humpback whales were breaching, lifting their entire body out of the water and making a big splash when they hit the surface again. It was a joy to watch them and a good omen  for our visit of Isla Isabel, so we thought. And we were right. Pretty soon we spotted two sailboats already anchored in the east anchorage, which is always a good sign since they wouldn't anchor there if they wouldn't like the spot.  But this also meant we had to wedge ourselves in closer to shore to anchor a safe distance from the other two boats. After crossing a rockshelf at about 15 ft deep we finally found a good area to drop the hook in 20ft of water that even had a few surprising sandy patches. Our spot was near the "Minor monkey rock"  - a rock that apparently looks like a monkey head - and we had a good night of sleep.

Next morning we launched our wooden dinghy, 'Lil Panther,' and headed for the nearby beach. We didn't need to search long for the blue footed boobies, they were already waiting on the beach for us where they were busy falling in love and raising their chicks. We took lots of pictures and discovered a small camp a little bit further up the beach. We said hello and learned that the camp is run by biologists who monitor the nesting success of the blue footed boobies. The biologists were super friendly and it turned out that today was their day off, so they offered to show us their island - this was the beginning of an amazing day.

Here is a short summary, Alena will soon post a detailed blog with everything we learned about the boobies and frigate birds.

Isla Isabel
Humpback whale breaching close to sunset  in front of Isleo Cerro Pelón

isla isabel whale

Both humpbacks showing off their suynchronized breaching.

Isla Isabel Mexico panorama
Isla Isabel is a small rocky island famous for its dense population of seabirds and iguanas.

Isla Isabel Mexico monkey rock
Anchored near Iselo Mona Menor (Minor Monkey Islet) - can you see the monkey face looking to the right?

Isla Isabel Mexico Lil Panther Alena and Chris Green Panther
We made it to shore with Lil Panther.

Isla Isabel Mexico hypersaline lake caldera crater
The caldera of the prehistoric volcano which formed the island has filled with water and is known as the crater lake. Apparently it's a hyper saline lake, anoxic at the bottom and most likely filled with tons of novel microbes. We should come back and sample here ;-)

Isla Isabel Mexico fishing village
Passing the fishing village on the south side of the island


Isla Isabel Mexico
Isla Isabel has been declared a National Park and a world heritage site. The birds don't really care ;-)

Isla Isabel Mexico
Two of our guides Cesar and Patricia on the hill with the lighthouse (Cerro del Faro) overlooking the island.

Isla Isabel frigate birds
Male frigate bird showing what he's got.

Two blue footed boobies dating. Male left femal right.

Isla Isabel Mexico green iguanas
After the tour we had lunch in the camp, until it was overrun by  iguanas.

Isla Isabel Mexico snorkeling
In the afternoon we went for a snorkel near the Monkey Rocks

Isla Isabel Mexico pompano
Unidentified "yellow" fish, most likely 2 species of pompanos.

Isla Isabel spotted eagle Ray
A group of spotted eagle rays in our anchorage.

Isla Isabel all of us Freen Panther crew
The island crew Patricia, Cesar, Santiago, Andrea and us at the happy hour on the rocks.


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0 #2 Bernhard 2014-03-26 21:16
WOW, unglaublich!! Tolle Bilder!
0 #1 the message 2014-03-16 02:32
Now you can comment without a facebook login ;-)

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