Thursday, November 8, 2012

Dr. Ponder's Pinzon Journal Entry #4

Having spent the past couple of days in final preparations, it appears that soon we head out! It is time to start capturing the hawks of Pinzon to remove them from harm's way during the upcoming rodent eradication effort.
Loading supplies onto the boat
Where Dr. Ponder will "live" for the next few weeks.  Note the hawk aviary supplies on board.
We had originally planned to depart at a different day, but as our boat needed some minor repairs, we postponed one day. The plan is for us to depart at night. While we sleep (supposedly), the boat will set out and have us on location and ready to go at daybreak. The first few days will be quite busy. The aviaries have been partially constructed off-site and will be assembled at the chosen location. There will be last minute scouting trips to survey hawks and plan the trapping. Luckily, Franny (one of the project leaders) and her colleagues down here have already done a great job of gathering information on the hawks. Thanks to her, we know we can expect about 35 hawks from 8-9 territories, including a large group of juveniles who hang-out in an area away from breeding territories.
Panorama of Academy Bay/Puerto Ayora from the beach at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Note the beach - more lava rock than sand (although there is some sand in places)

Plaque of Lonesome George
As I walked around the Charles Darwin Research Station, where I am staying while in Puerto Ayora, I came across two poignant reminders of why we do invasive rodent eradications on islands. In the tortoise breeding area, there is one pen labeled "Isla Pinzon." This is where the Pinzon tortoises are hatched safe from rodents and raised for 5 years before being released back on the island. You may remember from an earlier post that because of the rodents on Pinzon, no young tortoises have been hatched or survived to breeding age there in over 145 years. Not too far away from the tortoise rearing pens was a memorial plaque outside what used to be Lonesome George's pen. When Lonesome George died last June, his species went extinct as he was the last living Pinta tortoise in the world.
Pinzon tortoise nursery
Baby Pinzon tortoises

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