Snorkeling with Darwin
Jeff Austen ’09 (July 15, 2008, Bartolome, Galapagos Islands)—At the beginning of our evolution class, Dr. Krohne stated that Charles Darwin was initially uninterested in the Galapagos. For the first two days of our journey, I had to agree with Darwin. The black volcanic islands were almost barren in comparison to the Tiputini, the rainforest station we stayed at the week before.
However, after spending seven days exploring the Pacific waters and islands even further, I now appreciate why they hold such an elevated place in evolutionary theory. The black-colored marine iguanas, blue-footed boobies, and enormous Galapagos tortoises have all demonstrated these islands have more to offer than I originally thought.
The best sighting of the week that allayed my initial feelings for the Galapagos occurred on Thursday afternoon. After exploring North Seymour for bird life, we landed near Bartolome island, a desolate place blacked with volcanic rock. To conclude the day’s activities, we snorkeled off Bartolome’s sandy beaches. Here Dr. Rogers and I observed a 10 foot Manta Ray swimming idly in the clear Pacific waters, a humbling experience to say in the least. Later on, in the same afternoon, I swam with Galapagos penguins and a white-tipped shark. It is literally quite amazing how much biodiversity these waters hold.
Imagine what Darwin would write if he could have snorkeled in the Galapagos. What else would he have included in The Origin of Species?
In photo: Seniors Jeff Austin and Ronald King relax with a friend on a Galapagos beach.
Photo by David Krohne