A New Island, More Diving, and Giant Tortoises!

Rachel Seyler
September 29, 2021
Galapagos Giant Tortoise

I really should have believed people when they said that time would fly by while I was here. The first week was a little slow because we were all wandering around a bit and waiting for classes to start but since then we’ve been in overdrive. Recently we went on a four-day trip to one of the other islands, Santa Cruz, with our Techniques of Marine Research II class.

The trip started out rough. Not because we forgot anyone, or someone’s luggage fell out of the boat, but because the water was literally rough. None of us were expecting the chops that lifted us out of our seats on the ferry. We were all dying laughing when the boat left the San Cristobal pier knowing it would be a nice and bumpy ride. All part of the adventure right?

Some of the highlights of the trip was the diving of course, the empanada stand that I will definitely think about for the rest of my life, and the tortoise sanctuary.

During our dive debriefs with our professor and our naturalist guides/divemasters we basically went over the two parts of the dive. The first part being business: the science part of the dive. We were laying a fifty-meter transect underwater and surveying various animals and coral ground cover and writing down results on slates. This was to practice some underwater research techniques and show how not everything sounds as simple as it is on paper above water. The second part of the dive was for fun. After we gathered the line, we were able to be shown around the reef and we saw some amazing things. So many white and black tipped reef sharks that just left you in awe as they swam by—though the sharks paled in comparison to the giant manta ray that flapped by us. Despite its slow long movements, it was traveling relatively quickly and if I had the ability, I would’ve followed it for the entirety of my tank.

After all our class dives, we had the last day to ourselves before the ferry left and decided to take a taxi up to one of the tortoise sanctuaries. A guide took us through the area that was a mix of farm and tortoises and explained that the barbed wire that contained the cows was just tall enough for the tortoises to roam wherever they please since the land is technically theirs. I thought this was a cool concept especially given the fact that their droppings from eating on the farmland end up in the national park area and people work tirelessly to make sure that the seeds don’t spread. Instead of limiting the tortoises, they just clean up after them because they were here first. The sanctuary also had an underground lava tunnel that we were able to walk through and they explained how when the island was forming the rushing lava on the outside cooled while the inside flowed and after it was done flowing eventually left these crazy tunnels around the underground of the island.

I’ll be back for more empanadas Santa Cruz!

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Rachel Seyler

<p>Hello! My name is Rachel Seyler and I'm going into my junior year and I am studying ecology and evolutionary biology &amp; environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I'm studying abroad in Quito and the Galapagos Islands via direct enrollment during fall 2021. During my free time I enjoy snowboarding, hanging out with friends, and hiking. During my time abroad I'm very excited to expand my Spanish skills, learn about the local culture, and explore in depth the unique flora and fauna that the Galapagos and rainforest entails.</p>

Home University:
University of Colorado - Boulder
Southlake, TX
Biological Sciences
Environmental Studies
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