Galapagos Islands

Fall 3-week, 2014

The Faculty

Sandra Madar, Professor of Biology & Biomedical Humanities
Mary Quade, Professor of English

The Course

INTD 318: Natural History in the Early 21st Century (4 credit hours)

The Program

This trip will focus on the natural history of the Galapagos Islands, which figure prominently in the writing of Charles Darwin.  His observations, as the chief natural historian aboard HMS Beagle from 1831-36, were critical to his proposal of the process of natural selection to account for the evolution of living organisms.  Fortunately for us, the islands and their biota are relatively intact and today we can make many of the same observations that Darwin did.  Current issues in natural history, conservation biology, and environmental preservation can be seen, studied, and understood from different points of view in this World Heritage site.  Learning first-hand about the efforts of Ecuador, a relatively under-developed South American country, to preserve its and the world's unique natural history is worthy of study.

The itinerary for this two week trip includes 11 days in the Galapagos and a day or two in mainland Ecuador.  We will live aboard a modest motor yacht with its Ecuadorian captain and crew as well as an Ecuadorian naturalist guide.  During our travel between islands, students will work on journals and formal writing assignments; participate in lectures and discussions led by faculty and the Ecuadorian naturalist; and be able to speak Spanish with crew members.  At the many stopping points, short hikes and snorkeling sessions will illuminate all aspects of the natural history of the islands.  Topics to be covered include geology of the islands, the native wildlife (e.g., giant tortoise, iguanas, albatross, etc.) and introduced species, and the history of human inhabitants and the many visitors who came to explore and exploit the archipelago, from the early whalers to the many collectors sending specimens back to museums.  We will study the changing perspectives and uses of the islands, with special emphasis on the impact of Darwin's visit there.


The course will begin at Hiram College on Monday, December 1, 2014.  The group will fly from the USA to Ecuador on Wednesday, December 3rd and will return to Hiram on Tuesday, December 16, 2014. Final papers are due December 19, 2014.

Cruise Schedule

Travel Activity
Day 1 - Baltra Transfer from the airport to the yacht.  Visit North Seymour in the afternoon
Day 2 - Tower Darwin Bay (including snorkeling ) & Prince Philip's Steps ( including panga ride)
Day 3 - Isabela Punta vicente Roca in the morning, followed by Whale Watching.  Fernandina - Punta Espinosa in the afternoon
Day 4 - Isabela Urvina Bay in the morning (including snorkeling).  Panga ride at Elizabeth Bay in the afternoon
Day 5 - Floreana Punta Cormorant in the morning.  Snorkeling at Devil's Crown. Afternoon at Post Office Bay
Day 6 - Espanola Gardner Bay in the morning (incl. snorkeling). Punta Suarez in the afternoon
Day 7 - Santa Cruz - Puerto Ayora Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in the morning, followed by shopping time in Puerto Ayora.  Lunch in Puerto Ayora with a guest scientist from the CDRS.  Afternoon in the Highlands with dinner at a local restaurant
Day 8 - Santa Cruz Morning visit to longtime resident Jacqueline DeRoy's home.  Santa Fe in the afternoon
Day 9 - San Cristobal Cerro Brujo in the morning (including snorkeling) and Kicker Rock in the afternoon
Day 10 South Plaza in the morning.  Bartolome in the afternoon (incl. snorkeling around Pinnacle Rock)
Day 11 - Santa Cruz Black Turtle Cove in the morning, followed by circumnavigation of Daphne Major. Baltra - Transfer to the airport for the flight back to the mainland.

Class Requirements

Most of the time will be spent aboard a motorized boat, and seasickness can be a problem, albeit manageable.  The student and his/her physician must evaluate the extent of any motion sickness issues, if applicable.  Each participant must come with sufficient and prescribed antidotes for motion sickness.  Once in the islands, there are no resources available to remove a seasick passenger, although very adequate health and first aid emergency services are present for true emergencies.

Students must have their own snorkeling equipment (fully described and demonstrated at orientation sessions) and be comfortable on the almost daily immersions in the chilly ocean water of the Enchanted Isles.  They also must be agile enough to climb from the yacht to a smaller boat (a motorized dinghy), and from different conditions.  Students must also be flexible and adaptable to handle a very full, and sometimes hectic and unpredictable, schedule.  Our goal is to experience and learn as much as possible about these famous and unique islands in our brief time there.

Thus there will be very little "down" time in the islands as the days are full of field trips, snorkeling, lectures/discussions, and journal writing.

Estimated Program Costs

The estimated trip fee of $7,450 (not including Hiram College tuition) includes the 11-day/10-night cruise, all meals, soft drinks, juices, bottled water; 3 nights at Hotel Alameda Real in Quito with breakfast; farewell dinner in Quito; airport transfers in Quito and Galapagos; pre-departure information, luggage tags, shirt with GT logo; estimated airfare from Cleveland to Quito and return; airfare from Quito to Baltra (GI) and return; Galapagos National Park Entrance Fee; Ecuadorian departure tax; tips to Guide and Crew; miscellaneous expenses.

* Personal expenses, passport fees, course texts, snorkeling gear, drinks at dinners on the mainland, and costs of independent travel during free time are not included.

Application Deadline

March 17, 2014

A $75 non-refundable fee is due upon receipt of your application.  This fee is used to pay for processing costs, an International Student Identity Card, passport holder, and luggage tags.

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