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Penguin Project Diary – Entry 4

Sep 20 2012
by NEW Zoo Education Dept

Hello again from Peru!

Today at the guano extraction site, we started to collect more data on the cormorant colony that lives there. We look at the group that hangs out behind the blind versus the group that is exposed to the miners, to be able to prove scientifically that the blind is helpful in keeping the birds more calm during the process. We monitor and record their behavior every 10 minutes; we look at the percentages that are resting, that are alert, and that are milling about. After my shift by the guano site, my group got to go out to South Beach 3 to do beach clean-up! (Dawn, the NEW Zoo volunteer, went with a group yesterday to a different beach.)

It was a pretty awesome experience! We hiked to the beach, then we walked to the edge of the very high cliff, down a steep, slippery, guano-covered slope, and walked off the edge down to a “trail” that lead almost straight down the cliff face to the beach below (I will post pictures of the “path” later!). A couple of times we had to stop and hunker down and wait, because the Inca Terns alerted the fur seals, and the one angry male sea lion, to our presence. Once the sea lion stopped yelling at and chasing the seals around, we could continue on our way down the trail. Once we almost reached the bottom, we hunkered down again because the sea lion was throwing a fit, and Susana decided we had better just stay where we were and take some pictures, and not do a clean-up of the beach. (Luckily, the Punta San Juan staff members do an excellent job, and there was not too much garbage on the beach, anyways!) The sea lion was so upset with everyone and things were pretty dicey. So we sat for a few minutes and took photos and video, and then it was time to climb back up the cliff!

Going back up wasn’t as bad as going down, as you are facing the cliff more, so you can’t see how far down it is or just how sharp the many, many rocks at the bottom are!! We all made it back up to the top all right! Then as an added bonus, Marco was near the top with the truck, so we didn’t have to trek back to the field station! Susana had a meeting in town, and would not have made it back in time if we had hiked. Once we returned, I had to perform my temperature checks again. Every day, someone has to check various temperatures around the station. Some are taken five times a day and some are taken three times a day — like the ocean temp, which we take by trekking down another (much less steep) cliff path.

This afternoon we had to do a “water brigade” again, to get ocean water up the cliff to the field station, to be used to flush out the toilets. We all space out, like in an assembly line, along the path and each carry the buckets for a ways before passing off to the next person in the line. There are large barrels at the station where we dump it all in then.

Well, it’s been a long busy day, so it’s time to sign off!




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