Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Visit to Galapagos Islands provides a lesson in wildlife

GALAPAGOS ISLANDS, Ecuador — Brooksville Elementary School's little Beanie Baby mascot Bessie and Pine Grove Elementary School's bear learned to move gingerly around swarming marine iguanas, swing widely around resting sea lions and sit quietly with giant tortoises during their recent visit to the Galapagos Islands.

They went with me to the islands during the middle of January, and hopefully their travels will help the students at their schools learn about the fragile, highly protected national park about 600 miles west of Ecuador.

We boarded Lindblad Expeditions' National Geographic Endeavour, and on our very first day we saw sea lions, Sally lightfoot crabs, sea turtles and a flamingo — pink, not plastic. Throughout the week, we added land and marine iguanas, yellow warblers, green sea turtles and giant Galapagos tortoises to that list.

A highlight for us was a visit to the Unidad Educativa Modelo Tomas de Berlanga, a prekindergarten through 12th-grade school near Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. There, we were guided through the grounds by the school's director.

The students studied in open-air classrooms.

The islands are on the equator, and the weather is warm year-round, with cool breezes from the ocean. There are wet and dry seasons. We were there at the very beginning of the wet season and had beautiful weather.

We met 10th-graders Patty Tapia, 15, Nicolas Padilla, 14, and Mateo Saenz, 15, in the art room working on colorful dragons. The students were going to be dismissed soon for their "summer" break at the end of January. They are out of school February, March and April instead of June, July and August.

Patty, who spoke very good English, said she has attended her school "all my life. I think 10 years."

The school is private, and some students attend through scholarships provided by Lindblad Expeditions.

Patty said her school is not the same as other Ecuadorian schools.

"For me, this school is different because we learn in the Galapagos with the nature," she said.

She added that Unidad Educativa Modelo Tomas de Berlanga has an expanded bilingual program, compared with other schools.

They receive about 10 hours of English each week, as opposed to one or two hours a week in other schools.

While we were at the school, a prekindergarten class gave us a paper Flat Stanley (from the Flat Stanley book series by Jeff Brown, about a flat boy who can be mailed and packed into luggage). He is shared by schools and travelers around the world.

Bessie and the Pine Grove bear are like Flat Stanley, in that they travel, too.

The Flat Stanley from Unidad Educativa Modelo Tomas de Berlanga will visit Brooksville and Pine Grove elementary schools before being returned to the Galapagos.

While Patty and her friends worked, Bessie and the Pine Grove bear watched.

Patty knew we would be returning to Brooksville and sent a message:

"Hello to Florida children. Lots of love from Galapagos!"

Visit to Galapagos Islands provides a lesson in wildlife 02/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 3:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Scaramucci publicly airs grievances at White House

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's new communications director exploded the smoldering tensions at the White House into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump's chief of staff to deny he's a "leaker" and exposing West Wing backstabbing in language more suitable to a mobster movie than a …

    Chief of staff Reince Priebus was called a “paranoid schizo?phrenic.”
  2. Crist votes for measure that includes money for Trump's wall

    Blogs

    WASHINGTON – Rep. Charlie Crist was for it and against it.

  3. Tampa man arrested in fatal motel shooting

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested on a manslaughter charge Thursday in the death of Yasmine L. Tyson on Monday night.

    Christopher Lee Carithers, 37, of Tampa
  4. St. Pete's Downtown Looper expands service with $900,000 grant

    Transportation

    ST. PETERSBURG ­— The Downtown Looper will expand its route and its hours starting in October 2018 thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

    A $900,000 DOT grant will finance two more trolleys, a longer route and longer service hours.
  5. Latest sewage crisis fallout: Higher utility bills in St. Pete

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months the cost of the city's sewage crisis has been measured in terms of environmental damage, legal ramifications and political repercussions.

    Now residents are about to get the bill.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage during the height of the city's sewage crisis. Now the City Council is considering how much to raise utility rates to pay the $326 million bill to fix St. Petersburg's sewage system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]