Today was a special day in honour of the World Environment Day (WED) aboard Yacht Isabela II. This year’s slogan for WED is “I’m With Nature,” and what better place to passionately express such a slogan than the Galapagos Islands? Not only are you with nature in the archipelago, you’re a part of it! The islands make for the perfect place to highlight the beauty and importance of such a slogan in this day and age. More often than not, the islands themselves are capable of opening our minds to just how important nature really is.
Interestingly enough, on this special day we happened to have 3 park rangers from the National Park on board and several activities were organized to complement their presence. Over at Cormorant Point for example, we took the time to show our younger guests how counterproductive the changing tides are on the coasts where green sea turtles tend to congregate. It just so happens that these tides tend to bring in bits of trash from nearby towns and/or places outside of the archipelago entirely. Following this, we teamed up with the kids to pick up any and all trash that we managed to spot along the coast. The young ones were delighted to help out and were super energetic about picking up as much as they could and throwing it into trash bags.
They truly saw their contribution on the beach that day as a boon for the islands. Many of them even commented that this simple act would serve as a stepping stone in creating a better world, especially for the green sea turtles that tend to frequent the coast at Cormorant Point. With their bags full of tiny bits of plastic, our young guests proudly came back on board Yacht Isabela II and deposited the fruits of their labor in the appropriate place. We then talked to them about the impact and the damaging effect of throwing trash into the ocean, underlining just how much it destroys the home of the very creatures that they themselves got to see up close and personally: turtles, sea lions, iguanas and plenty of other species of the Galapagos. They walked away from the activity with profound convictions regarding the health of the world, promising themselves that they would devote their lives to taking care of whatever beach they walked upon so as to perpetuate the beauty of the planet. They said that they hoped to maintain it well enough so that, one day, they could come back to Galapagos with their own children and share the magic of the islands with them.
Later at night, we sat down with the adults and gave them a nice little presentation on the condition of the environment in areas that had formerly been affected by introduced animals. It was packed with information that detailed how invasive species were being eradicated throughout the archipelago and why it is that we have this type of system in place. Everyone had numerous questions after the presentation, eagerly wanting to know just how effective the measures had been in contributing to the well-being of the archipelago. We appeased their curiosity with several before-and-after photos as well as reminding them that they had just managed to swim with sea lions along clean coasts! Walked through areas of islands that had finally grown back their original flora and had giant tortoises grazing there! In short: the result of our efforts could be seen in the things they had experienced that same day!
The kids, of course, were delighted to hear about the park rangers and their adventures spent hunting the feral and invasive animals of the Galapagos – such as the infamous goats – aboard helicopters. They were also surprised because it was something that they’d never heard of before! The Galapagos, we realize, is a truly fascinating place for adults and kids alike. The questions and interests that the kids shared really impressed the rangers, too.
In the end, the most endearing thing about this whole day was just how passionate the kids became with respect to protecting the environment and cleaning it up as much as possible. They promised to take what they’d discovered and learned back home with them, and spread the word in their classrooms and at home with the rest of their family members. To top it all off, the kids partook in making banana splits! To commemorate World Environment Day, the cookie represented the earth and the ice cream – the ocean.