Galapagos Island Volcano Erupts

Will Bolsover

28 May 2015

What does the volcano eruption mean for the wildlife?

On May 25 2015, at about 1.30am local time, Wolf Volcano erupted in the Galapagos Islands causing a spectacular display of orange in the night sky. Lava poured down its slopes and dark smoke plumed from the rim to a massive height of around 6.4 miles.

About Isabela Island

Wolf Volcano stands at about 1.1 miles in height and is located on the popular Isabela Island, within the Galapagos Archipelago. Isabela is famed for its unique seahorse shape and is the largest island in the Galapagos archipelago. The island is popular with tourists for the historic and moving 'Wall of Tears', stunning trekking, and outstanding snorkelling, where you can see turtles, penguins, manta rays and even sharks. The island itself is home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, including blue and red footed boobies, frigate birds, and the critically endangered, and total fascinating, pink iguana.

Pink Iguanas

Pink iguanas were seen by park rangers for the first time in 1986, but were quickly dismissed, only being rediscovered as recently as 2009. Besides their striking rose colour and black stripes, there are differences between these and the more commonly found (in the Galapagos) land iguanas; including a thick crest on their necks with small conical scales, and flat head scales.

What does the eruption mean for the wildlife?

Wolf’s eruption, after 33 years of being inactive, has caused a lot of speculation about the survival of these huge lizards which live on the volcanoes slopes, and the other fauna and flora found throughout Isabela Island.

We have been in touch with our contacts on the ground on Isabela Island to find out about potential threats from the source. After speaking with numerous people, including Felipe De La Torre from Scalesia Lodge, we have found that it is not believed that the wildlife will be affected by the eruption and that it was not significant enough to cause any problems for the island.

The eruption was in the north-west of the island, so expeditions can still access Isabella’s most important landing sites, and as the lava is unlikely to reach the sea, the marine life should also be safe. Its location, about 70 miles from the populated area of Puerto Villamil, has also meant no threat to the local people or tourists although there is the possibility of getting some ash cloud.

Image is courtesy of Diego Parades, guide on Yacht La Pinta.

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