Santa Cruz Island, Endeavour II

Jul 31, 2018 - National Geographic Endeavour II


Guests onboard National Geographic Endeavour II spent the day exploring Santa Cruz Island. This is a special opportunity for our passengers to get a deeper understanding of the human-environmental relationship of Galapagos. This relationship has been one of conflict, harmony, feats and failures. It is important for guests to get a chance to ponder some of these socio-environmental processes and how they resemble processes occurring in their own home countries.

 We started the day with a tour of the Charles Darwin Research Station. Guests learned about the intention behind the establishment of this world-renowned research institution; a consolidation of important ecological, social, and environmental research used to inform policy for Ecuadorian government authorities. Guests learned about the famous giant tortoise captive breeding program, both its successes and failures. We met Super Diego, the giant tortoise from Espanola that, once rescued from the San Diego Zoo in 1977, saved his species by giving rise to over 2,000 offspring that have bee repatriated to Espanola Island. We ended our tour of the Charles Darwin Foundation at the Lonesome George exhibit, and guests reflected on the ways in which humans have had serious negative impacts on the environment and the species that it supports.

 At midday, passengers rode a bus to the highlands to visit a local, family-run farm called El Trapiche. Guests learned about the local production of organic coffee, cacao, brown sugar, and sugar cane rum, and even had the chance to try some of their delicious products. After our visit, we had lunch at a lovely farm. Some guests took a tour of the restaurant green house, which provides all of the fresh produce they had consumed.

We ended our day with a visit to El Chato II, where guests got up close and personal with some of Santa Cruz’s gentle giants. We discussed the evolutionary history of the iconic species and took advantage of a fantastic photography opportunity of the Santa Cruz giant tortoise.

The night was filled with dancing and music on the National Geographic Endeavour II, with a local artist group onboard enchanting guests with some of the most beautiful Andean harmonies and rhythms Puerto Ayora has to offer.

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About the Author

Alexandra Widman

Naturalist

Alexandra grew up on the southeast coast of the United States. She has a deep love for the ocean that stems from her childhood spent surfing, kayaking, diving and fishing on the Intracoastal Waterway. Alexandra has lived on San Cristóbal Island for the past 6 years, having fallen in love with Galápagos the moment she arrived as a fledgling marine ecologist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marine biology and a master’s in environmental science and management from the University of California Santa Barbara.

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