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Destination: Galapagos Islands Cyber Field Trip

Mandy Williams' Expedition Journal
Day Six

Click on the photo to see an enlargement.

Today was a beautiful day! It started very early, though. At about 7:15 in the morning Sherri and I heard a knock on the door and a voice saying that we were going to be leaving in five minutes. Well, my mother would have been proud of just how fast I got myself moving and ready! Amazing. I never could get ready that quickly for school when I was a kid. So, needless to say, we were out of our room and ready to go -- with time to spare.

We headed out in our raft to meet up with another boat. It was there that we had breakfast. This was the first time I had ever eaten papaya. It was really good. The new boat was much smaller than the one we've been staying on, and so it rocked quite a bit more! Getting ready to shootAnyway, once breakfast was over, we got out into a little raft and headed for the shores of Genovesa Island, also known as Tower Island. The water was really rough today, so we got a little wet getting out of the boat and going onto the beach.

Once we made it ashore, the camera crew began to set up and prepare for the day's shoot. We were going to be meeting with Drs. David Anderson and Martin Wikelski, each of whom had already been on the island for a while, doing research.

Dr. Martin Wikelski and friendDr. Wikelski's specialty is the marine iguana. So he had plenty to tell us on the subject. He even managed to catch one of the fast little guys to give us better explanations of the things he talked about. I learned that the iguanas can hold their breath underwater for almost an hour before coming up for air. The iguanas are pretty amazing little guys. They didn't used to be able to eat underwater, but now, through evolution, they can. They have gone through a lot of evolutionary changes.

Dr. David AndersonThe other doctor that we spoke to, Dr. Anderson, studies birds. He specializes in all kinds of them. He knows a great deal about the boobies, finches, frigates and mockingbirds on the Islands. He told us a great deal about the evolution of the finches and the differences between the body sizes and beaks. He also is very involved in the study of the amazing phenomenon among the boobies called siblicide.

masked boobieBoobies sometimes lay two eggs. But later, when the second egg is hatched, they can't afford to spend the energy to raise both of the chicks, so the parent encourages the older sibling to kill the younger chick. It's very strange, and the scientists are still studying that.

Dr. Anderson also spoke about the frigate bird. It seems to be flourishing. It also is unusual in that it gets some of its food from other birds.frigate

Later, when we were walking along the beach, Sherri and I came across a baby sea lion that had apparently been the victim of an attack by a natural predator. His tail and rear flippers seem to have been bitten off, but he was still alive. The sad truth is that this little pup probably won't survive much longer. He will be weaker and slower and will probably fall prey to the law of natural selection. Sherri and I were tempted to bring him home with us. It's unfortunate, but it's nature.

All in all, it was a good day. The island was beautiful, and the sunset behind it was spectacular. Tomorrow is our last day. I will certainly miss these islands when I go home. But, until then, I'm going to continue to enjoy every moment.

Read Sherri's Day Six Journal

Day 5 new entry Day 7


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.