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 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.
James Docherty, Adjunct Instructor of Biology:
We just saw swimming sea lions while snorkeling the beach refuge, and afterwards, we took a launch to the island of Santa Cruz- a nice two-hour cruise along the shining seas of the Galápagos Islands. This larger island has a higher population and more developed cities. From the biggest port of Porto Ayora, the main road, Charles Darwin Drive, stretches across the town and is lined with markets, restaurants, and souvenir shops. In the evening, the fish market is open and you see the fish being brought off the incoming boats and displayed for sale. Farther up the road, you find art galleries and jewelry stores just teeming with beautiful pieces.
Apart from the touristy shops there is a street coming off Charles Darwin Drive that is jam-packed with restaurants and at night the street itself is filled with tables and chairs for seating. This is where the locals eat, and all the food I tasted here was outstanding! The best part is the small-town feel; all of these delights are within easy walking distance of the hotel.
From Santa Cruz, we SCUBA dove (those of us who were certified), visited and climbed volcanoes and the hardened lava fields they created thousands of years ago. Also on the agenda was hiking through the national park, where the government is trying to protect the natural plant life from invasive species, and of course more snorkeling!