Dana Tomlinson: Day 24, March 24, 2002

NOAA Teacher at Sea

Dana Tomlinson

Aboard NOAA Ship Ka’imimoana

March 1 – 27, 2002

Date: Sunday, March 24, 2002

Lat: 1°S
Long: 91°W
Seas: 2-4 ft.
Visibility: unrestricted
Weather: partly cloudy with possible rain showers
Sea Surface Temp: 82-86°F
Winds: light airs
Air Temp: 93-82°F

This was a day for exploring the island. Several of us headed off for the short walk from our hotel to the Charles Darwin Research Station. Even relatively early in the morning, the heat and humidity were incredible. We enjoyed the visitor’s center and learned how the Station and other groups are trying to help conserve the islands’ native species, as well as to eradicate harmful introduced species. We then hiked out to see the land tortoises. Lonesome George greeted us – the last Galapagos Tortoise of his subspecies. We also saw numerous other tortoises, as well as terrestrial iguanas. Then, we hotfooted it (literally) so a small beach on the Station’s property and watched marine iguanas swim up to the lava rocks, while we cooled our heels in the gorgeous blue waters. After a rest and refueling, we got into our bathing suits, tightened up our hiking boots (we’re walking over lava rocks here folks!) and started out on a long walk to Tortuga Bay. This beach is only accessible by boat or walking, but it is well worth it. It was about a 2 km walk to the entrance to the beach and then a 2-1/2 km walk over what reminded me of the Great Wall of China – weaving and winding and never-ending! We were walking in the heat of the day and there was no shade on the trail. BUT, as soon as you got to the beach, it was nirvana. The temperature immediately lessened, the water was 5 different colors and just slightly cooler than the air temperature, and the sand! Oh, the sand was absolutely white and like powder. As I ran to throw myself into the ocean, I noticed a meter-long marine iguana just ambling toward an outcropping of lava rocks on the beach. The beach was about a kilometer long, and John and I walked the length of it. It was glorious. That night, as much of the crew as were inclined gathered at La Garrapata restaurant for a final meal together, as the KA was shipping out in the morning. We had a wonderful meal and then I had to say goodbye to everyone.

That was much harder than I anticipated. It was difficult for me to get out much more than, “I had a great time. Thank you,” because I thought I’d burst into tears. I kind of figured that would destroy the credibility I had built up with this wonderful group of scientists and sailors, so I just bowed out gracefully and watched them walk toward the pier to take the water taxi back to the KA. We got back to the hotel just before the skies opened up and it rained an incredible amount. This happened two more times that night.

Til tomorrow,
🙂 Dana

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