Day 10: The wonders of Los Tunules
A day of rain, sun, snorkeling, science, and adventure!
We arrived at IOI to yet another blustering rainstorm. But do not fear, the Galapagos does not shut down for rainstorms, even when kayaks are likely needed to cross the roads.
We gather our gear and make our way to Los Tunules. Our group of excited biologists split up into our research groups for the day and board onto two boats where we are steadily, and bumpily, taken to Los Tunules.
On the way, we stopped by Union Rock, which looks like a giant toddler stacked his toys of boulders in a pile in the middle of the ocean. Waves came crashing down on the rock formation, and water sprayed up into the air. However, the Blue-footed boobies and Nazca boobies were safely nesting on the highest point, where the water and waves were unable to reach them.
We arrived to Los Tunules to see a maze of lava rock consisting of Pahoehoe and A’a. The maze consisted of standing lava rock, but more amazingly, bridges from section to section. Bridges and underwater tunnels were formed by the lava rock, allowing for a wide array of animals.
We walked on the lava rock and saw a pair of Blue-footed boobies grooming themselves after a swim. The male began to show off his feet to his female friend, and spread his wings to call. She did not respond, since she was occupied with grooming herself.
We took a class photo on the bridge, and then it was time to jump in the water!
It was yet another amazing snorkel excursion. We saw many damselfish, angelfish, wrasses, and clinids. A sea turtle came by to feed on some algae.
The rock structures from under water was an incredible view.
The lava rocks were covered with orange cup corals, anemones, and algae for the fish. At the end of our snorkel in Los Tunules, we passed by Galapagos penguins hanging out on the rocks, and saw a sea horse right before exiting the water.
Following a great lunch of sandwiches, apples, and chocolate on the boats, we went to our next destination to collect data. The location was an protected, shallow cove. Red and white mangroves surrounded the edge, and the cove was protected from the ocean by a series of rock faces. Sarah Mae, Becca, Jake, and I decided to look at the species richness across a distribution gradient along the protected side of rocks in the cove.
In the middle of data collection, Jake and I heard a cry of excitement from our fellow classmates, “TURTLE! THE LARGEST ONE I HAVE EVER SEEN!” Jake and I swam over to see if it was worth the commotion, and it was truly the largest sea turtle any of us had ever seen.
The turtle was sitting at the bottom, feeding on algae. The fun did not end there, however. After we finished data collection, Jake and I were talking to Larissa when a juvenile popped up to see what was going on. Jake stared in astonishment as I put my face underwater to see where our friend went, but he/she continued to check out the different groups and happenings around the cove.
We gathered on the boats again after watching more sea turtles come and go and went back to IOI and meet up with our host families for dinner. Another amazing day in an amazing place.