From the Polaris in the Galapagos

May 28, 2001 - National Geographic Polaris


From the Polaris in the Galapagos
Floreana Island

Greetings from the Galapagos! My name is Carmen Castillo and I am a Kids-At-Sea participant. In conjunction with New York City's High School for Environmental Studies, Lindblad Expeditions sends 6 students to Alaska and 6 to Baja California. The Kids-At-Sea program has been in existence since 1994, and each year a total of twelve students are taken on the adventure of a lifetime.

Last year marked the first Kids-At-Sea reunion. Participants of the program from years past met together for the first time and shared the life-changing experience of their trip. During the reunion, it was announced that a trip to the Galapagos was going to be given away…This brings us to the present.

This morning we went snorkeling off Champion Island. For most of us, including myself, this was only the second time exploring the incredible oceans off the archipelago. Though slightly overwhelming, we were calmed by the playfulness of juvenile sea lions that curiously approached us as we drifted with the current. The sea lions performed amazing water acrobatics! At times they were so close that their whiskers brushed alongside our legs. One approached me head-on and, at the last minute, made a sharp turn and brushed softly along my stomach. It was truly an incredible experience!

In the afternoon, we swam and took a short hike on Floreana Island. The view was absolutely fantastic! Huge volcanic hills loomed over a calm beach where we once again encountered playful sea lions. The afternoon hike was calming as well as breathtaking as we were in a fairly small island that seemed overpowered by the hills around it.

During this incredible journey, 22 second graders at Southampton Elementary School in New York will be following along step-by-step in a type of long distance learning. Through e-mail and the Internet, they will be able to ask questions, learn facts about the archipelago, and see pictures of this magical adventure. I hope this is an experience that they will always remember! As for myself, this is an experience that will forever remain in the forefront of all my memories. A special message to Mrs. Oakley's class-- the Galapagos Islands is super-de-duper!

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