While anchored in Banks Bay, Captain Benjamin Morrell recorded one of the largest eruptions in Galápagos' history at Fernandina Volcano. His ship escaped to safety and his account of the event was preserved.
Fernandina has an area of 642 km2 and a height of 1,476 m, with a summit caldera about 6.5 km wide. The caldera underwent a collapse in 1968, when parts of the caldera floor dropped 350 m. A small lake has intermittently occupied the northern caldera floor, most recently in 1988.
Due to its recent volcanic activity, the island does not present much plant life and has a mostly rocky surface. Visitors to Fernandina Island will be taken to see only the outskirts of the crater for safety reasons. Punta Espinoza is a narrow stretch of land where hundreds of marine iguanas gather in large groups on black lava rocks. The famous flightless cormorant inhabits this island as well as penguins, pelicans and sea lions. Two types of lava flow can be observed, ʻaʻā and pāhoehoe. Mangrove forests also abound on the island.
The southern flank of the volcano La Cumbre had a fissure eruption that generated flows, which subsided within hours. This is the youngest and westernmost island of the archipelago. It was named in honor of King Ferdinand of Spain, who sponsored the voyage of Christopher Columbus. Isla Fernandina supports wildlife that could be threatened by the April 2009 burst of volcanic activity, according to rangers at Galápagos National Park. As the island has no human residents, no settlements were endangered. Park rangers and a passing tourist boat initially observed the volcano at 10:00 p.m. local time on April 10, 2009. A sparse human population in the western reaches of the Galápagos Islands means that volcanic activity is not always observed or reported as soon as it starts. The seismic station at Puerto Ayora, on the nearby island of Santa Cruz, recorded no earthquakes associated with this eruption.