Saturday 27 February 2016

Mangrove Finches Revitalized in Galapagos

First Fledged Mangrove Finch
Charles Darwin Research Foundation Photo 
It’s wonderful to be able to share another great success for saving an endemic Galapagos species. The Charles Darwin Foundation (all photos attributed to the foundation) has raised eight endangered mangrove finches and released them onto Isabela Island.0

I can remember growing up seeing mangrove finches on just about every cruise trip. But that once frequent event has changed and, for years, a finch sighting has been rare, if indeed we see one at all. That these important symbols of evolution are, with help from scientists, reviving, is a monumental step toward rejuvenation of the species.

China Hat - Sombrero Chino

A stand-alone visitor destination in Galapagos, a small islet near Santiago Island, China Hat, also known as Sombrero Chino, is another island absolutely filled with things to see. As you can see from this photo, the island gets its name from its shape. In my last post, I told you about the tiny island of South Plaza. This island is equally tiny, less than 1/4 kilometer, but also equally exciting.
Thursday 4 February 2016

Galapagos Sperm Whales Have Specialized Family Cultures and Dialects

Sperm Whales and Calf from CBC News
(Chris Bangs/Guam Variety News/Associated Press)
We always want to be careful not to anthropomorphise those in the animal kingdom, whether it involves emotions, behaviors or language. After all, animals are not human and we can’t project emotions or thoughts onto them under the assumption that they think and communicate as we do. That said, we have learned from our own household pets how to read their “language” of gestures, looks and sounds and, from these, reach conclusions about whether they are hungry or want affection, are scared or tired or content. 

Even those observations, however, tell us nothing about how animals communicate with others of their own species. Is there a universal or even regional language that animals of a given species use with others of that same species? Scientists study language and other aspects of animal behavior all the time, forming hypotheses about what an animal's behaviors and vocalizations mean, if anything at all. 
Tuesday 6 October 2015

Eco-Tourism and Ethical/Responsible Travel – An Essential Combination

What is it about traveling that brings out the best in some and the worst in others? I'm not entirely sure but I've observed that the happiest, most relaxed of my guests (whether at the hotel or on a cruise ship) are those who come with the desire to immerse themselves in the experience. In most cases, these are the very same guests who have done research about our surroundings and our culture so that they are not surprised and they understand our basic customs and even our economies, just as we (the hosts if you will) have studied theirs. The result is mutual respect and the willingness and ability to learn from one another, enhancing everyone's time and experience. This, combined with a commitment to the environment and conservation, is central to the concept known as "ethical travel."

Anais Nin is credited with saying, “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” Responsible travelers not only seek, but touch, others in a conscious and special way. They leave behind a special footprint, not one that harms or impacts the environment, but one that leaves a lasting and positive impression on those around them.
Thursday 10 September 2015

Frequently Asked Questions: What Should I Pack for my Galapagos Trip?

Packing for Galapagos can be something of an art form depending upon how long you are staying and some of your personal preferences. Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind as you get started:

Know how your day is likely to be arranged on a typical Galapagos cruise. Your day will generally be:
  - breakfast
   -a land-based activity, usually a hike but sometimes in Santa Cruz or        San Cristobal
   - lunch
   - snorkeling
   - another hike
   - a briefing and dinner