We’ve been having an incredible past few days on the islands! On Wednesday afternoon we went surfing at tortuga bay, a white sand beach just a couple miles outside of the town. It was a blast! Luis, our guide, is also a surf expert so he gave us a quick lesson and then helped us get started in the water. We caught some waves (and missed a few more than that) but overall it was a great afternoon at a beautiful beach.
Thursday morning started at the Galapagos national park nursery. The nursery is up in the highlands and is growing native and endemic plants with plans to reforest the island of Santa Cruz. In fact, anyone from the islands can actually pick up native plants for free from there. We transplanted some young fruit and hardwood trees, weeded all the plants in the greenhouse, and then prepared bags with soil and compost for the next group to be able to plant. Through this work we were really able to understand part of the proces of reforestation and how difficult it can be, especially in this time of drought.
In the afternoon we set out on a sea kayaking journey, where we spotted sea turtles and blue footed boobies along the coastal cliffs. We explored some saltwater canals that were quiet and filled with bright turquoise water, surrounded by crabs and all sorts of sea birds.
We spent our last full day in the islands taking a day trip to the island of bartolome. Although it was a two hour boat ride each way, it was a truly incredible experience to visit what is known by the “open book of geology” of the Galapagos. When we arrived after a rocking boat ride there, we all got out for a hike up to the peak. Along the way, Luis explained the different eruptions that had formed to create the unique and lava filled environment on the island. Only a few organisms have made bartolome their home – some pioneer plants and cacti, along with lava lizards, locusts and Hawks. We actually saw one of the hawks just a few feet away from us — one of the rarest birds of prey in the world! After the hike we headed to the beach for some snorkel time, some of the best snorkeling imaginable. We swam around the iconic pinnacle rock and were joined by sea lions, Sharks, penguins, a sting ray, and fish of all colors.
This morning we came to the airport, sad to say goodbye to Luis who has taught us so much about the islands and the ecosystems, but looking forward to sharing all that we’ve learned over the past week!