Hello again, everyone! Ric and I are continuing our adventure with penguin conservation in Peru. On Tuesday, we learned how the Punta San Juan Reserve collects data on the local wildlife. We did a census on four sections of la guanera today, and we counted thousands of animals!
It was interesting to learn how the locals collect their data, and what they are looking for. For example, when counting penguins, we had to differentiate between the chicks, fledglings, juveniles, and adults. Chicks are the babies who still require parent help and are often kept in the nest. Fledglings are learning from their parents, and will leave the nest, but they still have the dark gray coloration of a chick. Juveniles look almost like an adult, except they haven’t had their first molt into adult feathers yet, so the feathers around their head are darker.
We also needed to count active nests vs. inactive nests (the way to tell the difference is by the amount of guano around the area). It was really a lot of fun to watch the penguins, and this data will help keep track of penguin population numbers in certain parts of the reserve. Ric says it is a good thing that we have experience with this at the Newport Aquarium, otherwise this could be a lot harder.
So today was a great first adventure before the harvesting of the guano begins. The Peruvian workers are arriving on Friday and will be arriving the next few days to set up their camp before starting the harvest. The guano is so deep here. It must go down about 3-4 feet in some areas, and the harvesters are going to be digging it all up! When we walk on the guano, it sounds almost hollow.
We actually have to cut this post a bit short. We are having issues with the internet, so we will let you know more of our adventures tomorrow.