Adventure in the Galápagos, Ecuador

An incomparable opportunity to study wildlife in the Galápagos began last week for 16 students and their biology professors, Robert Dawley and Ellen Dawley.

Blue-Footed Boobies display their awesomeness by lifting their feet into the air in a sort of dance. This male has bright greenish blue feet, a sign that he has been eating well and that his mate should stick with him.

Among the sites that students visited were the Charles Darwin Research Center, on the outskirts of Puerto Ayora. They hiked along windswept beaches and swam in a protected cove in Tortuga Bay. Along the way, they photographed marine iguanas and a scissor-tailed gull eating an octopus. In order to take the trip, the students had to complete a four-credit course in Evolutionary Biology.

On a recent boat trip, they passed the island of Daphne Major. The area is off- limits to tourists including the students, but it is the island where Peter and Rosemary Grant have pursued decades of evolutionary research, as chronicled in The Beak of the Finch.  The students had read that book and six papers authored by the Grants. “The chance to see the island where they conduct their research helped to illuminate the arduous and desolate nature of field research,” says Robert Dawley.  Other wildlife they have observed included the Lava heron, tortoise and Blue-footed booby.

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