Since my last update, we have been to the tropical montane cloud forest, the dry tropical forest, and now, the Galapagos Islands.
We started our trip to Galapagos on the coast of Ecuador. We flew into Manta, took plankton samples and later went to Montañita to look at algae cover and begin familiarizing ourselves with marine invertebrates.
It has been an exciting challenge learning to study and work in an environment I am so unfamiliar with. My mother passed down to me her fear of the ocean. It was a fear I knew I’d have to overcome when I signed up for Ceiba’s Tropical Conservation Semester.
Immediately after landing in San Cristobal Island, we made our way to the port where zodiacs awaited us to take us to the boats where we would be spending the next eight days. This was my first time spending extensive time on a boat. Many hours were spent lying on chairs outside of the cabins staring out at the horizon, trying to get over my seasickness, but just as much time was spent watching the sun rise and set over islands in the distance and seeing countless stars overwhelm the darkening sky. There was always a landform or endless ocean to look out to, and as we approached the western side of Isabella, the largest island of the archipelago, the waters were less choppy and being on a moving boat became more bearable.
From San Cristobal, we went to Santa Fe Island where we saw our first land iguanas. From there, we went to Santa Cruz, home to the Charles Darwin Station and the Galapagos Tortoises. We only spent a day at each island until we made the long stretch around Isabella. Here, the water is much cooler and productive, so we got to see the Galapagos Penguin and Bottlenose Dolphins. We had the thrilling experience of having penguins swim past us as we snorkeled. They were such clumsy little things on land but so fast and agile in the water. Even more exciting was spotting the dolphins and having our boat turn around and approach them. The dolphins followed our boat, swimming along the bow, jumping out of the water, and turning on their sides to get a good look at us. We all laughed, screamed, and craned our necks over the sides of the boats to watch the gigantic, magnificent creatures that followed us.
Though I still prefer having steady ground underneath my feet, my time on the Eden exposed me to creatures and organisms I would have otherwise never known and allowed me the opportunity to visit the renowned site that helped Darwin develop the theory of evolution.