MGC PLANS TRIP TO THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS
(Cochran, GA) – In June 2011, a group from Middle Georgia College experienced an awesome trip to the Galapagos Islands. We spent two nights and a full day in Quito, Ecuador where we toured old cathedrals and walked on the equator. Seven days and nights were spent on board the Floreana, a 16 passenger ship, as we sailed from island to island. These included Santa Cruz, Genovesa, Isabela, and Fernandina plus others.
The islands, also known as the Enchanted Isles, lie on the equator about 600 miles off the Pacific coast of South America. They were formed by volcanic activity and most of the mountains are inactive volcanoes. Because they were never attached to the South American mainland, the islands are home to unique plants and animals such as the famous giant tortoises which we observed up close in the Darwin Research Station on Isabela Island and in the wild in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.
Although several small towns are present, 97% of the islands consist of an Ecuadorian national park. Visitors to the Galapagos must stay on marked paths and walk carefully to avoid stepping on the black, two-foot long, marine iguanas. Numerous sea lions lounge on the beaches and swim playfully in the surf.
No other place in the world provides such a close-up view of the wildlife. It is easy to forget that the animals are wild. Due to the lack of mammal predators, the animals go about their daily lives feeding, playing, mating, and raising young right before our eyes. Blue-footed boobies nest on the ground within feet of visitors and frigate birds try to attract mates by inflating a large, red sac in their throats.
At least twice a day we visited various sites under the guidance of a trained naturalist. We snorkeled almost as often. The sea was bright blue and generally very clear. In addition to the usual sea lions, we swam with sharks, sea turtles, and penguins (yes there are penguins in the Galapagos). Seth Bennett, a Middle Georgia College student, said the swimming was the most thrilling part of the trip.
Anyone interested in taking part in an almost magical experience, is invited to join us for the next trip to the Galapagos Islands. The trip is scheduled for June 19-29, 2012 and is open to students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.
This tour will include a visit to Genovesa Island with its amazing bird population including nesting red footed and Nasca boobies. We will also visit Fernandina Island to see large, black marine iguanas and the flightless cormorants. These birds are similar to cormorants around the world but have lost the ability to fly. We will step ashore on Santiago Island with black beaches and Rabida Island with its amazing red beach.
The cost of the trip is approximately $4,490 per person including airfare to and from Atlanta, room and board, and most other fees. The cost covers everything except tips and souvenirs.
This video on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22dkqU7rW5Q provides background information about the trip. College credit is available and partial scholarships may be available for Middle Georgia College students. To learn more about the trip, contact Dr. John Pasto