August 26, 2008
It is amazing what a good nine hours of sleep will do to make a person feel great. This morning I awoke refreshed and anxious to learn more about the Penguin Survey. Any mental cobwebs that I had lingering were quickly washed away by the cold shower in my room. No coffee needed this morning!
I had been warned upon my arrival and in information sent to me that the water on the island was non-potable. I was told not even to use it to brush my teeth. The problem lies with the lack of treatment facilities and in the geology of the island. Any water that is released into the environment from septic systems goes directly through the thin soil and into the rock and follows fissures - the same ones that the rainwater follows. In addition to the bacterial contamination the water is salty because of saltwater intrusion into the aquifer. All drinking water must be purchased in bottles. In the small store (tienda) at the station it can be purchased in bottles from .5 liter to 20 liters.
After breakfast I met Gustavo Jimenez (a wildlife veterinarian), the lead scientist on the Penguin Survey. The first thing that Gustavo told me was that the beginning of the survey would be delayed by several days because of a problem with the panga driver. A panga is a small open boat designed to be used in the ocean.
Gustavo and I discussed my possible roles in the survey. Among the possibilities were to operate the GPS and record coordinates, help to identify and count organisms, and to help record and tabulate the data collected each day. The biggest problem that I see will be the language barrier. My Spanish is very poor and Gustavo will be the only scientist onboard the boat that speaks English.