During our time here on San Cristobal, we have become friends with many of the Naturalist Guides who work here, both those who do week-long embarkations and others who only guide on day trips. Because of this, we have gotten two opportunities to speak with other people about our work with the students at Humboldt. On one occasion, Karen and I spoke to newly-boarded passengers on the National Geographic Islander, describing our purpose and showing them pictures of our students taking data. The people were very receptive to our endeavors, asking questions about our experiences on the island and with the students. Another time, I spoke to a group of Guides during an optional Guide Training our group held, briefly presenting them with a similarly-themed presentation as was given on the Islander. This version, however, had a special video feature from the students themselves, describing their thoughts on the project. This short clip was able to communicate the power of our involvement in the children’s lives to the guides in a genuine way, superior to any other method of communication.
Just like the students, Maddie, Carla, and I are always excited to talk to people about the work that we’ve been doing here in San Cristóbal. We all find the sea lions to be both interesting and adorable subjects, and we believe that our scientific questions are deserving of investigative efforts above our own (preferably, efforts including those people who live on the island). Perhaps most importantly, though, we are excited to talk about our wonderful students. The 11 IB students who have worked side-by-side with us have been able to take this project and run with it, learning quickly and remaining interested throughout. They came to us with mixed opinions on the sea lions of the island, but have already developed an intense appreciation and respect for the animals, demonstrated not only through their words but by their actions during our meetings twice a week. Now, they are protectors of the sea lions, obliged to use what they know about the animals to better protect them on a daily basis. They have refined their views on the endemic sea lions, forming an opinion based in subjective feelings and in objective scientific observations. Their voices, familiar yet highly regarded, given their IB status and experience with the sea lions, will be integral in communicating the results of our study with the local people when our investigation comes to a close in a year and a half.