Thursday, May 27, 2010

Iguanitas Del Sol Blog 3

Over these past days, we have noticed that a great majority of trash that we see in the water, on beaches, streets, etc. is made up of single use containers. We even saw flamingos feeding in close
proximities to rusty Pilsener (the local beer) cans.
Single use containers are the types of containers that we learned in our Santa Cruz interview are outlawed to be imported from Guayaquil to Santa Cruz. Isabela and San Cristobal allow the import of these items. In fact San Cristobal just recently changed the law so that these items
are allowed. While we don't find the amount of litter about the islands extremely high, with the prohibition of single use containers, the cleanliness of the islands would be stunning and a perfect example of an impressive waste management program. We would like to focus a
portion of our project on the potential that this Santa Cruz law has for the islands, by prohibiting the import of cans and plastic bottles.

Tonight we have an interview set up with the Director of the Environmental Department on Isabela. As the island does not yet have a recycling center, we will be discussing the efforts of starting one here on the island. The Director is hoping to start one within the next year.

Iguanitas Del Sol: Recycling Recap

Yesterday we visited the San Cristobal Recycling Center. As we are studying and comparing the various islands recycling and waste management systems, this was our first major event in the construction of our piece. We woke up early to prepare, prep sound and practice filming by filming any trash build up out front of our bed and breakfast on the beach. After a meeting at lunch, we chanced upon an excellent filming opportunity. We got to see the loading of empty beer and water bottles onto a ship that would carry these reusable glasses back to Guayaquil to be refilled. We snagged a quick interview with a local explaining this process.

After this, we were more than ready and practiced for the shoot at the recycling center. We talked to two of the workers about the processes and were given a tour of the plant. We came out with a plethora of great shots and even a sound recording of the noisy flies over the compost piles. We were surprised to learn that the recycling center itself removes invasive species on their property, replacing it with endemic ones, using their own compost as fertilizer.

Pleased with our appointments, we began today on a glass bottom boat in search of trash in the water. We mainly found that the harbors of Bequerizo were very clean, and that there was very little trash in the water. As we didn’t find much trash, we snorkeled at a wrecked boat, observing sea turtles along the way.

Tomorrow we are headed to Santa Cruz bright and early. We have our next appointment on the 20th, at the Fabricio Valverde Recycling Center in Puerto Villamil. Between now and then we hope to continue practicing with our equipment, and taking footage of humans and animals interacting with the environment.

Iguanitas Del Sol: Recycling Facility Day! Update 2

Our group is called Las Iguanitas del Sol. The main objective of our project is to examine recycling programs on the various islands of the Galapagos. We hope to compare and contrast the programs on the islands of Isabella, Santa Cruz and San Cristobal, as well as global standards from the United States and elsewhere.

Today we went with the entire class to explore some pristine beaches and snorkeling locales. We took many photos of the gorgeous surroundings, and got to know a little bit about the history and culture of the islands. Our guide, Whitman Cox, is a fourth generation Galapagueno, and a ranger in the Galapagos National Park. Not only that, but he also owns the restaurant where we’ve eaten all of our meals and spent our time planning.

Over the next couple of days we have an interview planned at the recycling center here on San Cristobal. This is the first visit to a recycling center we have planned, the other two being on Santa Cruz and Isabella. Since we haven’t used the equipment before, it is important that we practice and have a good understanding of how it works.

Iguanitas Del Sol: Recycling Facility Day!

This is Mackenzie O'Donnell writing on behalf of Iguanitas Del Sol for their first blog post while in the Galapagos Islands.

"On Thursday we visited the Fabricio valverde recycling center here on Santa Cruz. This is the state of the art facility for the Galapagos Islands, and is very good by international standards as well. Apparently 30-32% of waste is recycled on Santa Cruz, which is comparable with the US and other industrialized nations. According to Xavier Salazar, our contact at the center, 60% of inhabitants here recycle, and they are trying to increase that number with door to door education campaigns. We saw the plastic, glass, paper and organic sections. The glass is ground up using a machine which was financed by Toyota, WWF and other donors. The ground glass is then used with cement to make paving stones which are sold to further support the center. They hope to expand into grinding plastic in the future for similar purposes.

Friday we went to Fernandina Island, for the purpose of visiting the tortoise breeding program. We saw a number of tortoises and visited the old farms on the island in the highlands. Afterwards there was great snorkeling on the way home, although the water was very cold.
Some of our group members have gotten a little bit sick, so hopefully we'll be all recovered when we get to Isabella for our final interview on the 25th."

-Nick, Kelsey, Christina, Maria Las Iguanitas Del Sol

Santa Cruz--a bigger and busier Galapagos

After an early breakfast and boat ride, we arrived in Santa Cruz. Wasn't quite sure what to expect, but found it to be a bigger place then San Cristobal that feels much more like a city.

We hit the ground running today. From the boat, we jumped straight into a cab to make our first interview with Fernando Ortiz of Conservation International. After speaking with so many fisherman on San Cristobal we were excited to start hearing other perspectives. Ortiz worked for the National Parks during the 2004 protests and was attacked by a mob of angry fisherman.

I noticed at the interview that our group is really getting a system down. We know who's on sound, how to set up people behind the camera so that subjects look more directly into the lens and are watching out for sound levels, good lighting, and the many hundreds of other tiny considerations that go into shooting a good interview. We've tightened our questions so that they are a mix of broad searching queries and more specific details. We're also trying to constantly ask ourselves where and how does policy meet science meet communication.

We also stopped by the Sea Shepherd's office and confirmed that we have an interview tomorrow! This perspective is an exciting one to get because it is a more extreme conservation viewpoint.

More to come soon,

-Marea Media

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Isla San Cristobal: Sea Lions are Dogs in Water, Kickarock Kicked Ass, and Ninos Love Cameras

Hola from the Galapagos, San Cristobal in particular, the eagle, or should I say eagles have landed. Las Tortugas have been hard at work trying to create a platform for science book donations and really any other related educational resources to the school systems down here. Two days ago, we had a great excursion out to Kickarock and Isla Lobos, where we practiced and came up with some great underwater footage. It's much harder than it looks! We swam with eagle spotted rays and sharks in the depths of Kickarock and then frolicked with adolescent sea lions at Isla Lobos. We also got great clips of stalking different types of fish. Needless to say it was a busy and tiring day in the surf. Between Shaun and Seb, I think it's fair to say that combined we sunburned a whole human body, particularly in the feet/ankle and back area.
Yesterday, however, was the start of our more serious production work. We visited the Naval school (where Whitman's kids go) and traveled throughout the grades getting different shots of kids, teachers, and administrators. Fortunately we had Whitman with us and between him and Jamey, we were able to deliver our various questions effectively and recieved some very interesting responses. Shaun, Yuma, and Seb ran like a well oiled machine swapping around the camera and sound boom making sure we had fresh hands at all times so that we caught every interaction. We ran the gamut. From the small kids who adored and basically attacked the camera to the oldest kids who were simply 'too cool for school.' With some coaching from Jamey and Whitman, however, we got good insight from everyone.
The highlight of the filming was when we were able to interview a science teacher who was originally from Guyaquil and has been teaching on the Galapagos for nine years. She had just finished a lecture on global warming to a class of 4th graders (pretty serious stuff for that age group) and we were able to get some of her lecture on film as well! She provided a lot of useful information on the her school and the school system at large. There were certain hiccups in terms of technical stuff with the camera such as exposure, lighting, and white balance, however, for our first run through, it went very smoothly and we are definitely pleased with the results! We still have a lot of work to do, but we can't wait to continue our work! Tomorrow, we are off to Santa Cruz.

The Fishermen of San Cristobal

Yesterday, we met with Carlos Delgado, the President of the San Cristobal fishing cooperative. We first interviewed him on the pier here on Wreck Bay with an incredible backdrop of the busy fishing harbor. We then discovered that we might have lost all the video and audio from that interview. Kind of disappointing to say the least. Carlos was very sympathetic though and gave us another interview at his shop and temporary home. It was very interesting to see the wordings of his answers change between the two interviews. Whether it was because Lucas was interviewing the first time and Ximena the second time or because he had time to reconsider his answers is unknown, but he was a pleasure to work with.

This morning we were up before sunrise to go out with a fisherman from here in San Cristobal while we did his morning run. We didn't catch any fish but we did catch some great, impassioned dialogue with him.

So far, the adventure is fantastic and has been a daily reminder of why protecting our environment, and this place in particular, is so vitally important. More on Thursday! Ciao!

Marea Media

San Cristobal wind farm

From the Pata Azul group:

Today we met with our contact, Jose Jarra at the San Cristobal wind farm. Mr. Jarra is the Operations Manager at the facility. We arrived with Professor Engel around 930 am to the farm. There was a great deal of wind and mist, which made shooting both difficult and intersting. We also interviewed Mr. Jarra using our Voom recorder. Afterwards, we hitched a ride to Jatun Sacha to drop Professor Engel off, and then continued to the Diesal Electric plant. Due to some camera issues, we were unable to capture anything further at that plant. We did capture some establishing shots earlier that morning during a brief stop. We plan to return to the Diesal Electric plant tomorrow to capture more footage. We will also be meeting with solar energy reps as well. Mr. Jarra referred us to further wind and solar projects on other Islands and we are in the process of establishing contact with the respective managers.

- Phillip J. O'Neill

Day 3 on the Islands

This is Simon Nicholson writing. I’m the SIS Professor on the Galapagos trip, and am traveling with Kiho Kim from Environmental Science, Larry Engel from SOC, and 24 students drawn from our various programs. We arrived on San Cristobal, the first island in our four-island visit, on Saturday afternoon, and since then have been hard at work (while finding some time to enjoy the sights and local hospitality).

The students are working in 6 different teams during our two weeks on the Galapagos Islands. Each team has its own focus, ranging from the development of a web-based multimedia project that investigates ongoing conflicts between local fishermen and the Galapagos park service, to a short film looking at the positive and negative impacts of tourism. The student groups will be blogging about their work, beginning in the next day or so.

We’re managing to pack plenty of activities into each day. Yesterday, a number of the groups had an early morning visit to a wind farm that supplies about 35% of the electricity used on San Cristobal. Some of the groups followed that up with a visit to a property maintained by Jatun Sacha, a local nonprofit focused on the eradication of invasive species and the repopulation of endemics. Other groups met yesterday with local fishermen, visited the San Cristobal recycling center, spent some time at one of the island’s schools, and filmed tourists at play.

Tomorrow morning we have a two-hour boat ride to Santa Cruz, with an even busier schedule planned for our few days there. We’ll keep posting news about our travels as we move around the islands. And we’ll keep posting photos of our work and downtime, so long as the internet connection cooperates …

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day One: Quito

Most of us and all of the gear are now in Quito. Larry Engel and his wife are somewhere over Peru as I type this.

It was a beautiful sunny day. A group of us spent the day exploring the Old City and trekking up to see Volcan Pinchicha. Fortunately, there is a cable car that takes us from about 2,800 m (~9,300 ft) to 4,100 m (~13,000 ft). From there we hiked up another 1,000 ft, catching our breath every 100 ft or so. We continued upwards on horseback, up and around a ridge, passing a small waterfall and taking in some incredible scenery.

We are leaving for the Galapagos tomorrow. Everyone is pretty excited except for part about 6 AM breakfast and 7:30 AM hotel checkout...

travel sucks, stuck in ny bad cockpit radio

Packed and ready

Rainy day on the farm in NY. Three dozen eggs in the fridge. Garden started and Galapagos on our minds!

Friday, April 30, 2010