Issue 14
Monday, 28 August 2017
Charles Darwin University
Students will have the opportunity to see many Galapagos endemic species such as the flightless cormorant. Photo: John Garate
Students will have the opportunity to see many Galapagos endemic species such as the flightless cormorant. Photo: John Garate

Ecuador promises unique experience for students

By Leanne Miles

Charles Darwin University students will have the unique opportunity to travel to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Galapagos Islands as part of their environmental studies.

The two-week field intensive will provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be mentored in-situ by scientists from the Charles Darwin Foundation and contribute to research addressing Galapagos’ current scientific and management needs.

CDU PhD candidate and trip coordinator Veronica Toral-Granda said students would gain hands-on experience learning about evolution, island biogeography, biodiversity and endemicity on Galapagos Islands.

The islands came to global attention as a result of Charles Darwin developing the theory of evolution by natural selection based on his observations and collections made during the second voyage of the HMS Beagle.

Veronica, who is originally from Ecuador and has spent 20 years living on the Galapagos Islands, will be joined by experts including environmental scientists Professor Keith Christian and Professor Stephen Garnett, and social scientist Dr Kerstin Zander.

“Students will have the opportunity to see many Galapagos endemics such as the flightless cormorant, the marine iguana, Galapagos penguins and Darwin’s finches thriving in amazing marine and terrestrial ecosystems,” Veronica said.

“They will also learn about the main threats to islands and what is being done for their conservation and management.”

The trip is made possible through a partnership between CDU and the Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands, which works with the Government of Ecuador to conserve the islands so it remains one of the most pristine oceanic archipelagos on Earth.

To complement their experience at the Foundation, students will join a chartered seven-day, live-aboard cruise.

“Students will gain cultural awareness and confidence in different community settings across a range of backgrounds, skills and experiences,” Veronica said.

“The program will emphasise ethical practice and leadership working in a cross-cultural environment.”

The Galapagos Islands Field Intensive will run in 2018 and is available as both an undergraduate and masters level unit. Students from other universities can attend through cross-institutional enrolment in the unit. Preference will be given to CDU students. For further information visit W: