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The Charles Darwin Research Station is only a 15 minute walk from our hotel. On the way there we walked past the shed where the fresh fish are prepared for sale to local hotels and restaurants. The men working there had numerous helpers.
The pelicans in particular seemed to have no concept of the size of their beaks compared to the size of the pieces of fish, and would try to eat pieces that were several times larger than their heads. It reminded me of the rhyme that my grandfather taught me: “Oh what a bird is the pelican, his beak can hold more than his belly can”. One of the pelicans was allowed to break the no feeding rule as it had a broken beak and was unable to feed itself in the ocean. Read the rest of this entry »
On a visit to Tortuga Bay I came across a new subspecies of a Galapagos mammal – one that has evolved adaptations for survival in the sea. This sub species has evolved the ability to use a large flat pointed implement as a tool to take advantage of the power of the waves. Another adaptation it has is a thick rubbery skin to maintain body temperature. Scientists are predicting if these adaptations will be perfected and what other adaptations may evolve with time.
Further along the bay literally piles of marine iguana were to be found flopped in the sand, random individuals periodically spitting out excess salt. There was quite a pungent smell!
Then came what I was waiting for – the opportunity to be close enough to see what is probably the most beautiful pair of blue feet on Earth.
We all put our recycling out (at least I hope we do!), but how many of us wonder what actually happens to it. Today we found out. As part of the trip we volunteered at the local recycling centre – it may not sound like a prize, but it was great fun, rewarding, hard work and a fantastic opportunity to meet some of the “real” islanders. We also learnt more Spanish that morning than any other time so far.
We began the day with a tour of the facility, seeing what they were able to recycle – glass, plastics, paper, metal, organicos (anything compostable) – that was the smelly bit! As well as some of the products made from the recycled materials such as concrete that contained recycled glass. I bet that looks lovely when polished down as a floor.
Then we had a tour of the interpretation centre where we learnt what the Galapagos islanders are doing to live sustainably. In many ways they are much more advanced than us back in the UK. They have been separating waste for over a decade. Then it was time to get hands on.
I was assigned to help Henry on the compactor. It began with me being given a pair of latex gloves and told to climb into a trolley full of paper. I then had to load the paper into the compactor. Within 5 minutes I was drenched with sweat and the gloves were shredded, but the compactor was full. Henry then showed me how to operate the machine, I was surprised at his trust in me since he spoke no English and my Spanish only really works in restaurants. Anyway with lots of gestures and repetition I was able to compress the paper into a bale and not break the most important machine in the plant.
I then learnt how to bale up the compressed paper, using a tensioner and a crimper to join the ends of the plastic strapping together. Henry and I then trolleyed the bale to the weighing station, recorded its weight (70kg) and then stacked the bale to await shipping to the mainland for processing. This was then repeated with cardboard, plastic bottles and metal cans.
The morning that we spent there flew by. We all really enjoyed the camaraderie of working as part of a team. The guys that worked there had a great sense of humour, even through the language barrier. It was great to shake Henry’s hand at the end of the shift, feeling that we had done just a little bit to offset some of the harm to the Galapagos that all visitors inevitably bring with them.
We were all stinking at the end, but with broad grins on our faces.