Save The Rainforest, Inc.

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Extention of Ecuador Trip: The Galapagos

By Amy Lacks, Biology Teacher
Taking my high school students to the Galapagos Islands in 2007 was truly a highlight of my teaching career. After teaching Biology for ten years, visiting the Galapagos Islands had always been a dream of mine. Being able to see what I had been teaching about right in front of me, and being able to share it with students, was an experience I will never forget.

I teach a unit on the evolution of Galapagos organisms in my Biology class, and so I was thrilled to see up close so many of the animals and plants that I teach about. We were able to observe firsthand the adaptations that have allowed the Marine Iguana to become so adept at feeding in the ocean. We saw many different subspecies of the Galapagos Tortoise, and were able to differentiate them by island. The tree-like species of the prickly pear cactus were impressive to see, as well as the diverse Galapagos Finches. To top it all off, we snorkeled with sharks, observed Blue-footed Boobies in their nests, watched a penguin swimming underwater, and observed flightless cormorants diving for food.

While staying at the Jatun Sacha field station on San Cristobal Island, we were able to give back to the community by planting native plants and removing weeds. My students enjoyed getting sweaty and muddy while planting seedlings at the station, and felt proud that we were able to play a small part in their important efforts to restore the native communities on the island.

Highlights:

-Tour of the Galapagos National Park Tortoise Research Center
-Snorkeling at Sleeping Lion Rock and Tigertas Cove
-Exploring by horseback the volcano slopes and craters of Isabella Island
-Observing marine iguanas and sea lions at La Loberia beach
-Hiking through the San Cristobal cactus forest
-Swimming with penguins
-Learning about evolution at the Darwin Center

Wildlife that will likely be encountered:

Galapagos tortoise, sea lion, marine iguana, flightless cormorant, blue footed booby, frigate bird, finch, penguin, Sally lightfoot crab:  Marine life:  Sea turtle, Galapagos shark, parrot fish, sea urchin, blue star fish, feather duster worm, finger sponge, large schools of pelagic fish feeding in the upwellings of the Humboldt current.

Galapagos tortoises

White sand beach

Blue Footed Booby

Rocky shoreline San Cristobal Island

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