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partly cloudy weather

Partly cloudy with haze
77°F (25°C)
Latitude: 0 deg 12.5’S
Longitude: 91 deg 48.5’W
Wind Direction: n/a
Wind Speed: calm to light airs
Sea State: 0
Swell(s) Height: 3-4 Foot
Sea Temperature: 77°F (25°C)
Barometric Pressure: 1010 MB
Visibility: 5-10 Nautical Miles

what's to eat today?
Ham and cheese omelet
Fruit filled pancakes
Banana bread
Hash browns and hot cereal
Bacon and sausage
Eggs to order
Mangos and melon
Dry cereal

Beef Stroganoff
Egg noodles
Turkey soup
Buttermilk Biscuits
Salad bar

Baked Salmon in lemon and garlic
Rosemary rice
Curried lentils
Fresh wheat rolls
Salad bar
Cream puffs

Click here to see baby tortoises from Santa Cruz.

Tortoises and volcanoes on Santa Cruz Island
April 21, 2000
By Clare Williams and Erin Todd

Yesterday was truly a day we shall remember! Early in the morning, we headed out to the Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. The Center was created in the 1960’s as a research and breeding center for endangered animal species of the Galapagos Islands, including tortoises, terrestrial and marine iguanas, and several species of birds. After the islands were discovered by sailors and pirates in the 1600s, many animals were killed for food. Because the giant tortoises can go without food or water for many months, they were prized as food sources by early sailors. The killing of tortoises for food, and the introduction of non-native animals, such as goats, rats, dogs, and cats, have had very dramatic effects on the indigenous (native) population of Galapagos tortoises and lizards.

We visited the tortoise breeding and rearing center where endangered species of tortoise are hatched and cared for until they are about 5 years old. Only then are they old enough to protect themselves in the wild. Did you know that tortoises can live to be 150 years old? We were lucky enough to meet Lonesome George, the last surviving member of the Pinto Island species of tortoise. We were able to get close to a few of the adult tortoises that are kept in outdoor enclosures. It was fascinating to watch them eat and move around.

It was then up into the highland jungle of Santa Cruz to see some of the volcanic features of the island. At our first stop, we followed a very narrow path that took us through some tall grasses and dense trees, making some of us wish we had a machete to help clear the way. But what a sight at the end -- a dramatic view of a giant pit-crater over 100 meters deep. Pit craters form when heat coming up from molten rock underground melts and loosens the surface rocks. When that happens, the entire area collapses inwards, leaving a huge, steep-walled hole in the ground. The ones that we saw were very old, and many years of vegetation had grown on their floor and walls.

Our second stop was to see a lava tube that the owner of a rustic guava plantation had found on his property. As he tells it, some years ago he noticed that he was missing some horses. He started smelling a foul odor, and decided to investigate the cause. He discovered that his horses had fallen into a “skylight” -- a hole in the roof of a large cave -- that had been covered up with grassy plants. The horses could not escape and had died. He and his son decided to see how far the cave went. What they had found was not a simple cave, but a large lava tube that ran right under his property and all the way down to the ocean, over 30 kilometers away!

A lava tube is a long tunnel whose walls are made of lava rock. It forms when the surface of a lava flow cools, but the lava inside remains molten, so it can continue to flow. How can this happen? Just like the Thermos bottles or insulated cups that people use to keep their coffee hot, the tube “insulates” the molten rock inside. At the end of a volcanic eruption, the molten lava flows down the hill and out the end of the tube, and the tunnel empties. This leaves a tube-shaped cave with walls of lava. It was pretty spooky and mysterious walking through a tube that many years ago served as a pipe for transporting lava! The walls and ceiling were decorated with bizarre and interesting rock formations, and there were a few places where we walked on a bridge to cross over huge cracks in the ground. We felt just like Indiana Jones! It took half an hour to walk through the tube, and when we got to the end, there was a single ladder up to a small skylight above. It was really cool seeing the ladder illuminated out of the gloom by the small amount of light coming through the skylight. As we climbed out of the cave, we were shocked by how much cooler the temperature was inside the cave than outside. This was an experience that we won’t soon forget!

Parents of two of our students were inspired to write limerick�s about their sons -- here they are!

From Ben Wigham's parents in Grenada:
There was a young scientist called Ben,
Who forgot how to pick up a pen.
His Mum and Dad said,
�E-mail us instead,
Or we�ll fly over and kidnap the hen!�

From Erin Todd's Dad:
There was a young man from Palm Beach,
Who found everything easily in reach.
For a time he was a debater, and later a ’Gator,
There were times he would learn, and times he would burn,
Many beers he could drink -- between times he would think.
When he went on a cruise, he had the Pollywog blues.
After hard work and a dance, he earned his Shellback pants!
Now his beard grows long, as he breaks into song
With a two handed slap, it’s back to his Rap!
The music is loud, but there's none that’s more proud
as the Rap man’s Dad, sitting back in his pad,
Watching pics of his son, his man on the run
in the bright Pacific Sun...