Tears for Galapagos

I did not have much chance to post anything while I was away this trip, probably because I was having too much fun seeing sights I didn’t see the last time. However, as I am on the long trip back home, I thought I’d post tears for departing Galapagos. This was a site on Isabela island. Earlier in the 20th century, the ecuadorians used to have a penal colony on Isabela island where they had prisoners build and rebuild a pointless wall of stones. I can’t imagine the frustration and agony they went through carrying and laying stone after stone in the heat of the tropical sun.

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Holy Lekking Lizards!

I haven’t had much time to get near an internet connection this past week. However, about 900 images on my new camera, and about 300 thermal images has given me a lot to sift through on this trip. I thought this was funny. The sign below points to the Playa del Amor (Lover’s Beach).

DSC 0375 Evidently, marina iguanas can read signs since this is where all the lekking males hang out:

DSC 0599 I can’t really post any videos (since it’s not breeding season here anyway, but I also can’t upload large files), so I will cross post to someone who has written blogs on this: http://zoologyweblog.blogspot.com/2012/07/marine-iguana-lek.html I can see why my host here is fascinated with marine iguanas. Easy to approach and fascinating to watch for hours at a time. Unfortunately, my tourism trips got in the way of iguana watching.

Mission Impossible

So, I am currently being hosted by the wonderful folks at the Isabela Oceanographic Institute (picture below).
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The purpose of the trip here is primarily for fun, but my idea of fun involves observing nature. So, I’ve brought the toys to help me do so (i.e. thermal camera). The IOI serves as the base of operation for a semester long field course where students from the University of Miami get credit for learning herpetology, ecology, conservation, community involvement and basic research techniques. The coordinator of the course was kind enough to allow me to ‘tag along’ provided I share some thermal images for the sake of education. Sounds like a good deal to me. The location is a former catholic mission, so the accommodation for the profs is quite nice. The director of the IOI has completely refurbished the place and we have a kitchen, classroom, dive room (where all the diving gear is stored) as well as easy access to the beach and the marine iguanas. The impossible part of this mission? I just left my 3rd year students back in Canada for their reading week (where they are furiously working on a lab report for my course), but I have to mark a part of their midterm while I am down here. That’s rather impossible to do with all the wildlife distractions…I wonder if I’ll be grading them on the plane ride home.

Arrived in Isabela

Long distance flight is for chumps. I don’t know how birds do it. Not to sound like I’m complaining, but it really is a long journey to get to Isabela Island from Toronto. Not helped when bird gets sucked into the plane engine at JFK airport and causes a delay in your flight…I would like to take a moment to reflect on that poor bird and what happened to it. Honestly, though…take a look at where JFK airport is located! It’s right on the ocean near a wildlife refuge!! Duh, of course there will be birds flying nearby. Anyhow, I think the theme of some future blog posts will be the stupidity of human/animal interactions, and I’m not talking about the animals. We build things right in front of natural animal corridors and expect animals to change? Anyhow, that delayed me a day in NY, then I arrived in Guayquil, Ecuador and had another overnight delay to catch the morning flight to Baltra, Galapagos. At this stage, I lucked out…took the bus, then boat, then taxi, then another boat and arrived 5 hours later in Isabela.

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Once I saw the Pelicans, I knew I was in the right place! I’m also trying out my new camera, a Nikon 5200D with 18-55 and 55-300 mm lens. So far, amazing pics!! Stay tuned, I might be able to upload them, assuming the internet works here.

Wish me luck!

Starting up the blog again here…just a brief post, but I am heading back to Galapagos, so what better time to write. I don’t think anyone wants to hear about what I have to say about zoology and physiology in Niagara region on a regular basis. Anyhow, I’ll be spending 11 days with the Isabela Oceanographic Institute tagging along a field course run by the University of Miami. I’ll try to post pictures or musings. The (slightly) comical aspect of this trip is that I found out before my trip that my status in Galapagos is uncertain. Apparently the authorities at the airport did not have a record that I left in May, which implies that I have been hiding out somewhere on the Galapagos without permission. As I sit here in the airport at Toronto waiting for my flight, I have just had word from the officials in Galapagos that my paperwork has finally reached the authorities. It’s déjà vu all over again. This is precisely what our last trip was like, when we received our visas via email on the flight down. Brinkmanship is the name of the game here. Anyhow, wish me luck. Hopefully my next post will be from near the equator.