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Field trips, as told by Kay Echterling

Posted by: | February 27, 2015 | No Comment |

Cobquecura Excursion

“On Feb. 4th our class went on a second excursion. This time we had a whole bus to ourselves! Mostly because the University was on vacation and our van drivers were unavailable.”

And Galen drove???? Well, no, but he was (once again) our fluent Spanish speaker.

And Galen drove???? Well, no, but he was (once again) our fluent Spanish speaker.

And the sign on the bus made it very clear eating hot dogs and fries on the bus was not allowed…

And the sign on the bus made it very clear eating hot dogs and fries on the bus was not allowed…

“We headed west to Cobquecura and Buchupureo to see the South American sea lion (Otaria flavescens). In Spanish their name is lobos marinos! Wolves of the sea!”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“When we arrived at the beach we split into groups to observe the sea lions on their rocks. This time of year is just past mating and into pupping season, so there were many pups to be seen. Teeny, weeny little sea lions (at least compared to the other guys)! There were a surprising number of vultures hanging out with the sea lions. I wonder if there are more during pupping season than the rest of the year. There was also many terns and cormorants, as well as a Peruvian pelican sighting, the only species of pelican in Chile!”

Galen pointing out the pelican (or at least pointing), while Sam and Mitch ponder what a colony of 1500 sea lions looks like

Galen pointing out the pelican (or at least pointing), while Sam and Mitch ponder what a colony of 1500 sea lions looks like

Sarah, Tessa and Meghan. Don't disturb them! They're counting!

Sarah, Tessa and Meghan. Don’t disturb them! They’re counting!

Mitch hard at work!!

Mitch hard at work!!

“There was a large male on a small rock to the north of the other, larger outcroppings all by himself except for a gull, standing sentient with the big guy. One comment was that the sea lion was tired of the lady lions and needed a break. This could be likely, as based on my counts there were about 10 males per 100 females. Other students may have gotten higher or lower numbers. The biologists happened to be out there making their counts and told us the population estimate for this colony was close to 1500 sea lions.”

Kay observing while Hanna counts and Travis records.

Kay observing while Hanna counts and Travis records.

Hanna and Travis adding them all up.

Hanna and Travis adding them all up.

“The big males were definite. Giant beasties that sounded like wookies when they tossed their heads back to holler. Some of the females seemed to be as high as they could up on the crest of the rock to avoid being pestered.”

Jake and Galen perfecting their counting methods, supervised by Jenna. Hey, Sarah and Tessa, you’re looking the wrong way…

Jake and Galen perfecting their counting methods, supervised by Jenna. Hey, Sarah and Tessa, you’re looking the wrong way…

“After spending about an hour making observations and counts here, we went in search of lunch and a hike Renee had heard about on her recon mission the week prior to our excursion. We found lunch at Punto Cerro in Buchupureo and spent about 2 hours delighting in Chilean cuisine.”

Because fieldwork always creates hungry people

Because fieldwork always creates hungry people

“We did not find our hike, though we tried. The pavement ended and it seemed like land worth hiking was far into the distance. So we turned around and headed back towards the sea lions and stopped at “Church of the Rock”. Here we explored the giant, mostly basalt, outcroppings. The “church” was a large cave in the largest rock and locals had placed religious idols in this sacred feeling place.”

Jake resting after scaling some serious rocks

Jake resting after scaling some serious rocks

“The wind howled through these caves and I couldn’t help but think that I would not live there. Often times in caves I think, “I could live here, with a fire and some furs”. But not this cave, the ocean was too close and the wind too high. “

“I spent the bus ride back to Chillan in wet shorts. I was trying to get that perfect picture of ocean spray against rocks and while I was watching the camera a wave came up and knocked me in the head. Put sand in my ear and everything!  I attempted to dry out on a rock for a few minutes, but it was time to head back to the bus, and a good thing, as apparently they were looking for me!”

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