Welcome to Galapagos!

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Nicollee Hammer
March 3, 2024
Sea lions near the Malecon

This post is a little late for a welcome to the islands post but I’ve been having too much fun and been too busy exploring everything San Cristobal has to offer. Luckily my track, the marine ecology track, got to come to Galapagos a week earlier than all the other tracks due to the research component of our class. We arrived at the SCY airport on a Sunday and headed to our hotel for a week before we got to meet our families the next Sunday. 

Our first week in the islands was full of snorkeling and research projects where we got to visit multiple beaches around San Cristobal. Our first day of class here we visited La Loberia which is now my favorite beach to snorkel at because it has such a large abundance of wildlife and almost always has turtles resting on the ocean floor. 

The next day it was my research groups turn to do our Cetacean research! We accompanied a local researcher whose focus is on cetaceans and megafauna migration as well as plastic pollution. We set out for the day headed far from the town towards the other end of the island. We first made a stop at Kicker Rock which is now officially my favorite place to snorkel and dive in all the islands. While we snorkeled there, I saw tons of starfish and urchin species, a white-tip reef shark, multiple stingrays, and sea turtles. After our short dip, we continued heading to the other end of the island. Once we arrived, we were all shocked by how beautiful the little bay area was that we arrived at. Although I do not recall the name the beach, we went to is only able to be visited by researchers who have a permit to visit and no residents or other tourists, so we had a very special day. After another short snorkel around there observing some sea lions and more rays we began heading back to port. Along the way we observed multiple sea turtles mating but sadly never saw any cetaceans during our field day. 

The rest of the first week was full of recording fish species for our project and preparing for our final presentations to finish off the class before our next one began. After submitting our final assignments, we got to celebrate, and our professor even celebrated with us. Our whole class hit up a local bar and listened to a band play while we all danced. We all soaked up the last few days on the island being the only exchange students before the rest of the group came from Quito. I think we all agreed it was super nice to have a week before everyone else to get acclimated and scope out what the best beaches were, but we were all so excited to see our other friends and hear about all their amazing experiences especially about other class trips to the Amazon. 

On Sunday when all the rest of the group arrived, we had a lunch at Giuseppe’s an amazing Italian restaurant and got to catch up with everyone and hear their first impressions. Later that day we all gathered on campus and awaited our new host families’ arrivals. I was so excited when I got to meet my new host mom and brother when they came to pick me up! I assumed we were going to take a taxi home like most of the other kids but then I got to meet my host dad, grandpa, and other host siblings who were waiting in the car for me! I was so happy to have such a big family and siblings near my age. So far, my adjustment from Quito to the Galapagos was great and there really have been no downsides to anything. I have an awesome family, campus across from the beach, and classes that go snorkeling for projects what more can I ask for! 


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Nicollee Hammer

I'm from Ohio but I've traveled since I was little so I've got to see many different countries and experience different perspectives and ways of life. I enjoy meeting new people and trying new things. I can't wait to see what Ecuador has to offer!

Home University:
Auburn University
Biological Sciences
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