T-D Travels to the Galapagos

By: Solana Gagliano, Staff Reporter

From April 13 through the 17, Thornton-Donovan School students had the opportunity to follow in Charles Darwin’s footsteps. Travelers visited the exotic islands of the Galapagos on a four day educational cruise.

T-D initially landed at San Cristobal Island, the first island visited by Charles Darwin in 1835. The students and teachers then hiked to Tijeretas Hill where they learned about the history of  the settlement and conservation of the islands. As they hiked through seven foot high cacti native to the archipelago, students saw a beautiful view of the island just as the sun set.  

The next day, the travelers landed on the shore of Española Island, one of the oldest islands in the Galapagos. As they walked on the beach of this subtropical island, T-D met a group of sea lions sunbathing near the blue, crystal-clear water. Soon after, the group snorkeled near the beautiful shore of Española Island. The students quickly found an abundance of wildlife including eagle rays and the white tipped shark, which is indigenous to the Galapagos. Later that day, students and faculty hiked to Suarez Point, a mating ground for a magnificent bird called the Albatross.

On day three of this wondrous journey, our travelers visited the island of Floreana, home of the Post Office Barrel, an old system in which whalers would drop off mail that would be picked up and delivered by other ships on their way home to the North America and Europe. T-D then snorkeled at the beach and got to swim with a group of wild sea turtles.

Later that day, some of the students had a chance to go deep water snorkeling farther out into the ocean where they found large schools of fish and flocks of blue-footed boobies. As the sun set, they explored another island where they saw sea turtle nesting sites, red-footed crabs, and flamingos. They also witnessed a feeding frenzy of competing pelicans and blue-footed boobies diving into the cove.

That night, during a dance party on the cruise ship, the group heard one of the passengers shout “shark!”. When they flocked to the back deck of the ship, they were amazed by the sight of a chaotic attack on a school of flying fish by a large group of white-tipped sharks surrounding the ship. Later, when the frenzy subsided, a naturalist intrigued the travelers with an exposition on the constellations clearly visible from the equator.   

On the last day of the cruise, the T-D travelers visited the island of Santa Cruz, the second largest and most populated island in the Galapagos. Once on the island, they went to the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center where they could see giant tortoises being bred. Thereafter, the group visited the highlands to see wild Galapagos tortoises, the animals that gave this group of subtropical islands their name.

It has been an amazing journey to witness an exotic environment that has not been impacted by human development. The only trace T-D left were the footprints in the sand.