Tintoreras and our first day on Isabela
Written by: Sarah, Class of 2018, Environmental Studies major
Hello to Celine Pichette, Bates, and the wider community! This is Sarah blogging from Isabela! We’ll be spending most our time in the Galapagos on this island, so expect to read many more blog posts describing the amazing things we’ll be doing and seeing here. Today was our first full day here, and gave us a taste of what our next two weeks will look like.
We all started our days with our first breakfasts with our host families. My host mom is an incredible cook, and made my roommate and I omelets, fried plantains, and fresh papaya for breakfast. We’ve all been learning how versatile plantain is, as it has been served at almost every meal and can be used as a desert, a snack, or as part of the main course. I’m hoping to learn how to cook Ecuadorian cuisine while here from my host mom, especially fried plantain!
Later in the morning, we all met up at our home base of IOI to take a boat over to Tintoreres, a small island right of the coast of Isabela. Tintoreres is Spanish for “white-tip reef shark,” as individuals of this species are often spotted in the warmer waters of the island. As we walked around the island, we could see several of these sharks relaxing in lagoons and being cleaned up at “cleaning stations” by reef fish. The island is also home to many marine iguanas, who bask in the heat created by the sun and the lava that makes up the island. Here in the Galapagos, the boundaries between the “natural” and human environments are incredibly blurred, which we experienced today with the iguanas. They were piled all along the trail, and often were basking directly on the trail. They also love to use Isabela’s main harbor as a basking site, meaning that you have to watch your step as you arrive or depart from the harbor!
The highlight of today was our snorkel session after our visit to Tintoreres. We snorkeled along a coastal mangrove grove in much rougher waters than we’ve swam in before, which tested our group snorkel skills. However, the area was the home to numerous marine megafauna, including a couple gigantic green sea turtles, sting rays, and several sea lions. These sea lions were especially playful and swam circles around us as we tried to keep up with them! It was surreal to be so close to these animals and to watch them in their natural environment.
Adios, and stay tuned for more updates of our adventures tomorrow!