This past month after island hopping was quite emotional. Considering that we were over halfway done with our program, still had classes, and wanted to make the most of everyday, it was hard to come to the realization that we actually were heading to the point to go home…Thankfully, I enjoyed these last four weeks with a lot of outdoors activities, and I even was able to land a volunteer research opportunity.
I’ve been taking a break from diving since I had a bit of a bad experience when I was completing a deep dive for my Advanced Diving Certification. However, two weeks ago, I visited Santa Cruz (the main tourist island) for the weekend with three friends to go diving. We went to North Seymour, and it was an amazing dive where we saw white tip sharks, black tip sharks, rays, and turtles. I’ve also gone to Kicker Rock for the last two weekends to free dive, and I finally saw hammerhead sharks along with more rays. I learned to free dive up to 14 meters, and that was quite an amazing experience. In the top right picture, you can see the white tip sharks behind me.
VOLUNTEERING WITH SEALIONS
For the last month here, I was able to get a sea lion monitoring research opportunity through the National Park. Sea lions are my favorite animal, and I completed three school research projects about them while here. Naturally, I wanted to participate in research for the National Park. For the past month, my research opportunity consists of taking census data of the abundance of sea lions here in San Cristóbal. I am volunteering from 5-7am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and while it is very early in the morning, the experience is extremely rewarding. It is crazy to see how the abundance is changing based on the upcoming El Niño phenomenon. I have counted up to 800 sea lions in one morning, but this is expected to decline drastically over the coming months.
Because I am going home to the rain in Portland and the snow in Rochester, I am spending every sunny day here on the beach. Unfortunately, the El Niño phenomenon is bringing about a lot of rain, so our time spent outside is a little limited. However, I’ve had the experience of going to 9 beaches over the past month from my travels in Santa Cruz and the roaming that I do in San Cristóbal.
This was not a beach, but it was one of the most beautiful swimming holes! (Las Grietas in Santa Cruz)
CAMPING & HONEY MAKING
Three weekends ago, we spent the time in the highlands of San Cristóbal at a property owned by Milton Aguas, the former Mayor of San Cristóbal. Milton and his wife have cabins for people to stay at, and they take day trips out to the delta where the ocean meets the river and a waterfall swimming hole. We picked the most delicious fruit along the way - passion fruit, oranges, blackberries, and banana. After, we chopped sugar cane, churned out the juice, and made honey!
So this was interesting. I had the opportunity to attend a legit chicken fight – called Cock Fighting. I was extremely against this concept, as I do not see the difference with fighting chickens and fighting other animals like pit bulls. However, it was interesting to attend the event, as it is something that people here care a lot about. The owners love and take care of their chickens, and the fights were less gory than I imagined. The chickens do not fight to the death, and it looked more like boxing than anything else.
This last weekend, my Island Socio-Ecosystems class went fishing. The goal was for us to learn about and hear the perspectives of fishermen who normally face a lot of political struggles. We explored questions like: Should sport fishing be allowed in Galapagos? What are the impacts of local fishermen and industrial fishermen? What are some of the regulations put into place? And, of course, we caught giant fish.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(85, 85, 85); font-family: 'Lucida Grande', 'Lucida Sans Unicode', 'Lucida Sans', Verdana, Tahoma, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 18px;">Senior at the University of Rochester studying economics, sustainability, and art. Pursuing a career in the corporate world but not-so-secretly a nature obsessed forest kid from Oregon and New Mexico.</span></p>