Faculty and students from the Biology and Geology Departments embarked on an exciting study abroad experience, “Evolutionary Ecology and Geology of the Galápagos Islands and Ecuador,” on Wednesday, January 8. The program includes a tour of the volcanic islands and unique wildlife that inspired a young Charles Darwin, a day trip to a stratovolcano in the high Andes, and four days exploring the diverse ecosystems in the Amazon rainforest. Occasional reports from their travels will be featured in news.hofstra.edu. They return to New York on January 22.
James Docherty, Adjunct Instructor of Biology:
It’s our third day on these spectacular islands, and it just keeps getting better! During our very first snorkeling expedition, we swam over a school of white tip reef sharks and Galápagos sharks. There were at least 50 of these magnificent creatures feeding 90 feet below us. We then traveled to another island beach to explore and discovered a pair of young sea lions lounging under a thick bunch of mangrove. The beach had outcroppings of outcroppings of volcanic basalt on which a blue footed booby perched and marine iguanas basking in the sunlight.
The second day started with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up call to visit the Tortoise Farm. We walked through the natural park, spotting different finches, flora, and tortoises ranging from a few days old to over 100 years old! Afterwards, we trekked to the top of an inactive volcano filled with rain water, 20,000 feet above sea level and literally sitting in the clouds. Following the climb, we ventured to the protected sea lion refuge and snorkeled off the beach. Below the waters were tons of reef fish, sea turtles, and of course sea lions!
The meals mixed in with the adventures of each day have been amazing! Fresh papaya, watermelon, and mango plus the juices made from these fruits were out of this world! The fish were caught only a few hours before being served and made a wonderful meal! The people on these islands are incredibly kind and accommodating, especially when you try to speak Spanish with them!
With that, I have to get some shut eye to prepare the tomorrow’s plans of more adventuring!