Day 8: Tour-tuga
We began our overcast Wednesday with a harried chiva ride to the docks.
Written by Symme Page ’15 and Brett Ranieri ’16
There we got to witness some sights we’ve become accustomed to, sea lions resting on boats, penguins swimming below, and Greg even made a fast friend in a sea lion pup! We then set out in two boats to the island of Tortuga (tortuga means “turtle” in Spanish, the island was named for its close resemblance to a turtle).
Choppy waters made for some unhappy students (ourselves included!) with very unhappy stomachs. We then separated into groups and broke out the field guides and binocs (field biologist slang for binoculars) in order to conduct a bird survey of the island.
We saw a plethora of different bird species including frigatebirds (some males were even displaying), red-billed tropic birds, Nazca and blue-footed boobies, Galapagos shearwaters, and two wandering tattlers. We kept each other on our toes by throwing out obviously incorrect species like cardinals, blue jays, and dragons (thanks, Bryant).
Once our survey was completed we took to the water in our wetsuits for some snorkeling fun. On our first dive we got up close and personal with two green sea turtles (much to Victoria’s delight), but then had to move to another spot because there were too many jellyfish.
We rounded Tortuga and took to the water again in a much safer spot. Larissa, Hannah, Bryant, and Rosa had a great time playing with a Galapagos sea lion that was very curious. It followed them down for dives and performed flips and spins around and beneath them. It’s an experience we are all very jealous of.
I (Brett) switched boats getting out and nearly gave Larissa a heart attack. Good thing Fernando, local coordinator of IOI/our IOI dad, always knows where everyone and everything is! He quickly let Larissa know and we continued on our way.
We then ventured to our third and final snorkel site of the day, Loberia Grande. The water was much calmer and we got to adventure through a maze of very cool trenches. Once we got back onto our boats we were given cookies and Coke, which tasted amazing after being in the salt water.
Shortly after we had finished eating the two of us, Hannah, Rosa, Larissa, Bryant, and Fernando decided to hold up the entire group by jumping back in to spend some quality time with two Galapagos penguins.
This was a great learning experience as we tried to imitate their posture and vocalizations. Once we were fished out of the water we took a ten-minute (and much calmer) boat ride back to Puerto Villamil.
Back at IOI we separated for our lunches and then met back up for class. Lecture consisted of us compiling our bird survey data for the day and looking at the vertical distribution of the different species on Tortuga. We then took some time to work on our own personal species lists to get an idea of just how many animals and plants we’ve seen here.
I (Symme) spent a lot of time organizing my bird species, while Brett and Becca became the fish lord and lady. We then closed class by coming up with some questions to consider during our snorkel on Friday at Los Tuneles (more on that to come).
So for all those parents reading and worrying, just know that we’re still learning and still having fun! Other than some minor jellyfish stings, digestive distress, mosquito bites, and sunburn we’re all good. The hammocks out front of IOI have become our homes away from our host homes and we’ve become very proficient in the ways of Puerto Villamil. Stay tuned for more drama, fun, and broken Spanish. Adios!