Students share their Spring Break trip to the Galapagos Islands

Students share their Spring Break trip to the Galapagos Islands

We wanted to share a little about our experience on the Spring Break (2017) trip to the Galapagos Islands. First fun fact of this letter: The true name of the Galapagos Islands is the Archipelago de Colon.


Before going to the Galapagos, we spent some time in Otavalo, Ecuador—home of the second largest outdoor market in Latin America. Allie was so overwhelmed by all the fantastic crafts for sale, she bought a tablecloth (but does not yet own a table for said tablecloth).

We did so many fun things! We learned not only how to differentiate between three species of boobies, but also how to tell the difference in saddleback and dome tortoises. Fun fact number two: the Galapagos tortoise does not become mature sexually until age 40; for this reason, and several others, Lonesome George found himself isolated and became sterile—this is why efforts to carry on his lineage failed.


Besides animal and plant knowledge, we also learned that Dr. Campbell can do impressive back flips off yachts and that Dr. Rischbieter, accompanying us from the Biology Department, is the most optimistic and enthusiastic person we know. He taught Martha a great amount about gastropods and many other invertebrates and Allie really related to him when he said he was ready for a nap after breakfast one morning. Martha has always had a love for cephalopods but it wasn’t until she and Dr. Rischbieter met that she learned to appreciate all invertebrates. Allie has always loved naps.

We snorkeled with a pod of dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and sea lions. We swam at remarkable speeds to keep up with our guides and got nice back tans. Martha fulfilled her lifelong dream of being inches away from giant tortoises on a tortoise reserve on Santa Cruz Island. She remarked, “It was really a transformative experience.” Martha would also like to point out that to be a naturalist guide in the Galapagos you must be from the Galapagos, and she thinks this is really cool and important to the preservation and integrity of the Islands.

But it wasn’t all just fun and games…we spent many hours practicing our jumps off the top of the yacht, baking in the sun during our hikes, and looking for Martha’s passport that she just could not keep up with. Fun fact number three: previously, one person died on a hike we completed. Fun fact number four: no one died from our group.

On a bit of a more serious note, the trip to the Galapagos Islands was one of the best weeks of our lives. We learned to appreciate wildlife we had never seen and a culture different from ours. If you have the chance to visit the Islands or to travel with the History Department to any destination, take it from us, you won’t regret it!


Martha Hughes and Allie Cobb

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