The Plaza Islands
The Plaza Islands
Area: 0.13 km2 or 0.05 mi2 (South Plaza)
Maximum Altitude: 23 m or 75 ft (South Plaza)
Human Population: 0 (North and South Plaza)
Plazas Islands off the east coast of Santa Cruz is made up of two small crescent-shaped islands, North Plaza and South Plaza. South Plaza Island has a visitor site, however North Plaza is only used for research purposes and is not open to visitors. South Plaza is one of the smallest islands with a visitor site in the archipelago and was formed from an uplifted seabed. Despite its small size, South Plaza is home to a wide variety of species and is famous for its extraordinary flora.
It is believed that introduced mice were responsible (at least in part) for the decline in the cactus population, an important food source for land iguanas. Although the mice were eradicated in late 2012, an ongoing challenge is the long-term restoration of the cactus forest while maintaining a healthy land iguana population.
Visitor Site: South Plaza Island
South Plaza Island is a popular site among visitors. Red-billed tropicbirds and swallow-tailed gulls are some of the many birds that can be found nesting along the cliffs, and a large colony of land iguanas can be found on the island. The South Plaza land iguanas are the smallest in the archipelago. Marine iguanas are also abundant, and an occasional hybrid between a marine iguana and a land iguana can be seen on the trail. Approximately 1,000 sea lions inhabit the island. South Plaza is also home to the beautiful succulent Sesuvium, which changes from bright green in the rainy season to red, orange, and purple during the dry season, and the landscape is dotted with prickly pear cactus trees.