Learning  Resources
Travel Log
School Stuff

We thank all of you for the wonderful welcome home that we have received.

Although we're back, we're still adding photos, video and information on our website. Check out the bottom of our "Travel Log", as well as this page for new additions. In the days to come we'll add our video of a baby sea lion nursing, the real Lonesome George story, and talk some more about why the Animals and plants of the Galapagos are so unique.

Pinnacle Rock

The tooth like precipice in the background is the most photographed feature in the Galapagos Islands. We swam/ snorkeled at its base on February 9, along with a couple of white tooth sharks, and a penguin. We'll add a penguin photo soon!

The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador. They sit right on the equator in the Pacific Ocean, and are very isolated. We tried to put a map here, but it didn't look good. There are lots of maps on the internet to look at.

Our parents keep going on about how much we're going to learn on this trip. Already we have learned one thing: how to spell GALAPAGOS (honestly, none of us could figure it out and we had to look it up). A hint: the vowels are three As and then an O.

Apparently, the Galapagos Islands are really important in terms of understanding the development of different species, and how they can adapt to their surroundings. We don't really understand this yet, and will have to say more about it once we actually get to the Islands.

Kaeden's Fun Fact: The Spanish explorers thought that the arc on the toirtoise's shell looked like a type of Spanish saddle called a "galapago". Because there were so many  islands, they named them "Galapagos". Dad and I think that this is a good name as it includes the wildlife of  the islands instead of kings and explorers. Thomas and Mum disagree and don't think that it's a good name for this cool group of islands.

Darryl's Fun Fact: During El Nino (when the wind brings the warm waters to the Islands) the marine Iguanas do not have very much food to eat.  To survive, they shrink their size - including absorbing their skeletons - by one third! When there is more food they grow back to their full size. During this same time of warmer air and a lot of rain, the inland iguanas thrive because there is a lot of food.

Apart From Iguanas, What is so Cool about Galapagos?

In earth years, the Galapagos Islands are pretty new. They were all formed by volcanoes, and then moved along with the movement of the earth's tectonic plates, kind of like a conveyor belt There is still a lot of volcanic activity, and maybe new islands will eventually grow out of it.

Because a lot of the wildlife on the Galapagos Islands has been really isolated, scientists like to go and study them. In a way, the Islands are basically a big research laboratory. We've been told that a lot of the animals are not afraid of humans, and that we might be really close to iguanas and sea lions. Mum doesn't think it's a good idea to get too close to a sea lion. 

Thomas' Fun Fact: The Woodpecker Finch pecks a hole in the bark of trees and then use a stick or cactus spine to dig out a worm and eat it.

Kaeden's Fun Fact: There are over 30 different kinds of Finches on the Galapagos Islands.

Thomas' Fun Fact:  The bees on the Galapagos do not sting! They have stingers, but over time they have forgotten how to use them.

Galapagos Resources

If you or  your teachers want to learn more about the Galapagos Islands, there are these books and videos. All of them are available through the Vancouver Island Regional Library. Also, check out Discovery Streaming for a good video by Jeff Corwin, and Enchanted Learning for a map of Equador. Teachers in our district should have access to both of these websites.

Galápagos : The Islands That Changed the World  (Book) Paul D. Stewart. This is full of amazing pictures. The text is suitable for Middle School Students through to adults.

Galapagos: The Islands That Changed the World (2007) BBC Productions (ages 9 and up). This video series is about two and a half hours long and our parents made us watch the whole thing. It was interesting, but if you are limited for time, the final hour is probably the best.

Lonesome George the Giant Tortoise  by Francine Jacobs (2003), ages 5-9. This is a true story, written for kids about trying to get a girlfriend for George. We're going to go and see Lonesome George on the Island of Santa Cruz. See our travel log page for a photo!

Swimming with the Sea Lions (ages 5-10). This outlines all of the animals in Galapagos. If we get any photos we'll put them on our travel log! We finally took this back to the library, so you can get it from there.

We're Sailing to Galapagos! (ages 4-8). This is a collage-style book that lists the things that you might see during a trip to Galapagos. It doesn't give any detail, but it's kind of cute for younger kids - and better than no book at all.

Biological Classification By Kaeden

Note that the Kingdom, Phylum and Class for the Galapagos Marine Iguana and the Galapagos Giant Tortoise are the same!

The Galapagos Marine Iguana

The Galapagos Marine Iguana is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It lives on rocks near the ocean and eats red and green algae. Female iguanas lay their eggs on land in holes in  sandfields and on Isla Isabela and Isla Fernandina they lay their eggs on the coldaras (volcano craters).  Marine Iguanas are very different from Land Iguanas in four distinct ways. One, they have longer claws. Two, they have shorter snouts. Three, they have longer tails. And four, they are mostly black contrasted to the yellowish tinge of the land iguanas. The dark colour allows them to hide from predators in the rock – even though their only predators are owls.  They are able to produce young when a male marine iguana and female land iguana mate, but the offspring are not fertile. Though the offspring are on land, they are very recognizable because of their long marine iguana claws, darker colour,  and their stripes. This only happens on one island -  Islas Plazas Norte (North Plaza Islands), and there are only three of these rare crosses left today. A few years ago there were 20.

Binomial name: Amblyrhynchus cristatus

Kingdom: Animalia [1]
Squamata [4]
Iguania [5]
Iguanidae [6]
Genus: Amblyrhynchus.
Species: Cristatus
[1] Anamalia includes all creatures as opposed to plants, fungus and bacteria.
[2] Chortada are, roughly speaking, anything with a hollow dorsal nerve cord for at least some part of its life.
[3] Sauropsida  are reptiles
[4] Squamata are scaled reptiles
[5] Iguania include iguanas, chameleons and agamids.
[6] Definition of Iguanidae is unclear, except that it includes iguanas.

The Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Again, the Galapagos Giant Tortoise are endemic to the Galapagos Islands. There are several different species. Some can mate with each other because they are close enough species, and produce fertile offspring. The different species have different shells. For example, Giant Saddleback Tortoises have a very distinct shell (shaped liked like a Spanish riding saddle), while the tortoises at the place where I was staying had very dome shaped shells. And no, I was not at a resort. These tortoises were wild. The Giant Tortoises eat mainly plants and cactus pads that have fallen off the cactus trees either due to birds or high winds. I noticed that their feces are very chunky and filled with lots of whole leaves and grasses. Their digestive track is obviously not that good because there are pieces of food that come out whole, unlike the human digestive track that produces sludge like feces, and sucks out every piece of nutrients it can get. But,  the tortoises live for about 200 years, so their digestive system must be good enough for  them!

Galapagos Giant Tortoise
Binomial name: Chelonoidis nigra

Kingdom: Animalia [1]
Cryptodira [8]
Testudininae [10]
Chelonoidis [11]
Species: Nigra

[1] Anamalia includes all creatures as opposed to plants, fungus and bacteria.
[2] Chortada are, roughly speaking, anything with a hollow dorsal nerve cord for at least some part of its life.
[3] Sauropsida  are reptiles
[7] Testudinidae are reptiles with shells.
[8] Cryptodira are tortoises and turtles that pull their heads straight in to their shells (as opposed to turning their heads sideways and tucking them alongside the body under the shell’s margins.
[9] Testudinidae are land tortoises and turtles (as opposed to living in the water).
[10] Same as #9 
[11]Chelonoidis is a genus of turtles in the tortoise family. They are found in South America and the Galapagos Islands. They were formerly assigned to Geochelone, but a recent comparative genetic analysis has indicated that they are actually most closely related to African hingeback tortoises."( from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chelonoidis)