Friday, April 15, 2016

Adios Galápagos 4.0

While I was in Floreana, I found out that I was awarded the Phyllis and Eileen Gibbs Travelling Research Fellowship from Newnham College. This funding will allow me to continue my field research in the Galápagos next year, and thus, as I bid adios to the Galápagos this year, I'm excited to say there will be a Galápagos 5.0!!!

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Sofia and Speant four days on Floreana, and it is a lovely island. The permanent population there is only 100 people, so the whole feeling of the town is much smaller and quieter than Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz. It was overcast, which made walking around much more pleasant!

We went up into the highlands to do some of our work, and one advantage of the higher view was a chance to take some shots that could be stitched together into a panoramic shot.

And, of course, there was a wonderful assortment of Galápagos birds that we saw, including a finch that had very pale feathers. We called it an albino finch, but it didn't have the other characteristics of albinism, so we're not sure what's going on with it....

Friday, April 8, 2016


Española is the oldest island in the archipelago. It is low and relatively flat, especially compared to the islands that have active volcanoes on them such as Isabela. We left in the late morning and spent the afternoon at Bahia Gardner. We slept on the boat and also worked in the early morning there.

Sofia sampling on Española

Only two species of finches are found on Española, the warbler finch, the small tree finch, and the large cactus finch. The large cactus finch is only found on a few islands, so we were very fortunate to have the chance to see one, though I don't have a nice photo of one.
Warbler Finch
And of course, other organisms have made Española their home as well (not us, of course)

We then went to Punta Suárez on the other side of the island. Here, the Nasca Boobies nest, as well as the amazing Waved Albatross.

We also saw a Galápagos Hawk and even had a few moments to wander over to a natural blowhole in the cliffs!

Monday, April 4, 2016

North Seymour

I had been to North Seymour on the day trips that come here, and so when we had the opportunity to come here to do research, I was incredibly excited. James Gibbs at SUNY had told us a bit about the geography of the island and we were looking forward to being able to collect data on the island!

North Seymour is just north of Baltra, and is one of the islands that has successfully eradicated the black rat from the island, and this is very important as the iconic Blue Footed Boobie nests here.

Furthermore, the frigatebirds where the males have these magnificent red pouches to attract females also nest here as well.

We had an excellent day sampling on the island!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Santa Fe!!!

Today we had field work on Santa Fe. Santa Fe is quite close to Santa Cruz, so the boat ride there was not too long. This was extremely exciting as we were getting to work on other islands for the first time this season!

Santa Fe is a pristine island with no invasive predators such as black rats or house cats. Thus, the animals on the island make for excellent photographs. For example, this juvenile Galapagos Hawk was enjoying the early morning sun and seemed to enjoy posing for us.

Land iguanas like to feed on the decadent pads of the opuntia cacti. If they get a hold of a pad, they wipe the pads on the ground to get rid of the spines and then feast on the succulent flesh.

Of course, we saw some finches as well, and even a Galapagos Dove!

Team Santa Fe!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Field Work Food

People are often surprised to find that there are established towns on the Galapagos Islands (myself included when I found out). We had an apartment that came with a full kitchen including an oven. I had convinced Marco to bring some yeast down with him when he came, so Sarah and I didn't let it go to waste. The delicious results included homemade bread


 and homemade pizza!

Our neighbors also procured some whole coconuts, so they cracked a few open to let us have the coconut water (yum!)

So, we're pretty lucky in that we get to eat and drink some pretty yummy things during our field seasons!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Today we went to Baltra Island, also known as South Seymour Island. The island is most well known for harbouring the airport that serves Santa Cruz Island. It was regular flights to and from the mainland, and also hosts land iguanas, tribulus, and finches, of course!


Baltra also had an invasive house cat and black rat population that was successfully eradicated about 13 years ago.

It also served as a military base, and so there are abandoned military structures on the island.


This island is similar to North Seymour in that the terrain are large, red volcanic boulders, or areas consisting of vegetation and swathes of a fine, red dirt. The green vegetation, during the current dry spell, is fairly sparse, with patches of palos verde and acacia, as well as opuntia.


Also like North Seymour, it felt as though this is what Mars would be like once we get there!


We spent all day there but had a successful day collecting samples and data!