Here is another set of questions posed by the Team Rock! 7th graders, and my attempts to answer them.
In Science class we are learning about adaptations and evolution, especially with Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos! It’s funny how you mentioned them in your blog, what a coincidence! Have you seen any finches with noticeably different beaks? What do you think about their evolution?
I’m afraid all the finches look pretty much the same to me, other than the coloring if males/females. Many of the finches I’ve seen have been in the towns, often hanging around restaurants. Do you think their beaks will eventually adapt to foraging human-food…?
Has there been any recent droughts that affected the large finches?
I don’t know. I will relate one thing I learned, though, that impressed me about the impact of climate change. Back 30 years ago (I think, I may be off with the years) there was a very strong “El Nino” year — where the usual ocean currents are disrupted, and with them the weather. Our guide on one of our tours said that in this one year 90% of the coral around the Galapagos died off. He attributes this to the ocean currents. One day the waters would be cold, brought north by the Humboldt Current. The next day the water would be warm, from the Panama Current. Coral can live in both temperatures, but he said that he believes the constant switching back and forth killed the coral.
This year is a strange one, in that we are now in the rainy season, but there has been almost no rain. There was a lot of talk about this among locals, though no one seems to know why or what the impact might be.
Were the iguanas mean?
For the most part the iguanas ignored people, and while the tourists didn’t ignore them, we never touched them or tried to scare them. I did have one “spit” at me once though.
Would you ever find yourself wanting to return to the Galapagos Islands?
I did not fall in love with the Galapagos. But I probably would if we were free to explore the remote areas. What a great cruising ground! But as I’ve reported, it is increasingly “protected” from tourists. So I doubt I will go back.
Were you able to touch any of the animals on the islands?
There was a strong local ethic of not touching animals, and we almost always adhered to that. I did touch the back of a sea turtle that was swimming with me. He didn’t care; maybe he (she?) even liked it.
What was your favorite part of being in the Galapagos?
Three things come to mind. First, the sea lions were a hoot — very entertaining. But that got old quickly as they “invaded” our boat. Second, visiting the island of Isabela (going by ferry and spending the night there in a little hotel) was fun. The town was smaller and life seemed more relaxed, and it was fun to explore a little on my own. But the winner has to be snorkeling around Kicker Rock, where both the cliffs above and the cliffs underwater were incredible.
How many different species of finches did you see? What was the most unique species you saw?
Sorry — I don’t know!
We are learning about Darwin’s finches and I would like to know if you saw any of the birds dying or fighting for food?
This is not apparent. The birds all looked healthy and “happy.” I think the competition that leads to some birds having advantages over others happens over many thousands of years, and would be very difficult to detect at any one moment in time.
What your favorite place you have been so far?
Hard to choose one. Some of the places in the San Blas islands were interesting and fun. The Panama Canal was a cool experience. Parts of the Galapagos were unique and wondrous. And another favorite is right where I am now — in the middle of the ocean, where there is nothing around by more ocean, and the night sky is amazing in its brilliance and its vastness!