Fall 2011 – Another successful tagging expedition!
Just returned from Isabela Island in the northwest region of the famed Galapagos archipelago where we tagged 5 gorgeous healthy sunfish with fastloc GPS tags and VEMCO acoustic tags. We installed two ultrasonic listening stations at Punta Vicente Roca and also collected tissue samples from 9 individuals for genetic analyses being conducted by Dr. Steve Karl and Jonathon Whitney in Hawaii. This expedition was made possible with funding from the Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic Initiative (LEX/NG) and through a partnership with the Charles Darwin Foundation along with permitting through the Parque Nacional Galapagos.
Our intrepid team consisted of: Drs. Tierney Thys (Ocean Sunfish Tagging and Research Program), Alex Hearn (UC Davis) Kevin Weng (University of Hawaii) and Cesar Penahererra from the Charles Darwin Foundation). Dr. Carlos Romero from NG Lindblad Expeditions was also instrumental in making this expedition a reality. Our research vessel was the lovely sailing ship, Pirata, expertly captained by the intrepid Lenin Cruz with the help of Galo Rueda and Augustin Lopez. The conditions were perfect for deploying our tags, installing our acoustic receivers and for diving with dozens of magnificent molas at a prime cleaning station. According to expedition leader, Tierney Thys, these mola are without a doubt the most beautiful mola she has ever encountered anywhere in the world (no bias, of course). Genetic samples are being analysed in the next few weeks and the tags are already reporting so stay tuned for more discoveries.
After the expedition, Dr. Thys and Dr. Weng joined a tourist expedition run by National Geographic/Lindblad expeditions to explore the rest of the archipelago. When they reached the island of Santa Cruz, Dr. Thys presented the sunfish work to a renowned local school, Tomas de Berlanga. http://www.expeditions.com/DER_Details198.asp?
Dr. Thys will be returning to Galapagos in June as the NG expert on the NG Endeavor family odyssey trip. For details see: www.nationalgeographicexpeditions.com/expeditions/galapagos-family-cruise/detail
All photos are property of Tierney Thys and Kevin Weng for Parque Nacional Galapagos, Ecuador.