Imagine; you live in a small community on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean where a hardworking life is simple and fulfilling. One day you are told that a group of 20 will be travelling to your island to study it, using your resources and living amongst you for over a week. The people of Isla Natividad welcomed us with more than just open arms. During our first meeting, they remained patient while some of us tried to speak our best broken Spanish, were genuinely curious about our projects and most of all, elated to help. Mayte, the island’s tourism director, was constantly making herself available to provide us transportation on the island and show us around. Captains Rafael and Jesus drove the SCUBA teams to their sites everyday accompanied by divemasters Ivan and Johnny. Needless to say, they wanted to be involved as much as possible, and it was much appreciated!
Studying on Isla Natividad was something that I didn’t want to end. Not only because of their way of life and friendly locals, but because there is so much more to explore. My intertidal project comparing invertebrate and algal cover inside and outside one of the MPA’s was barely the tip of the iceberg. After a week of exploring the intertidal, I was left with more questions than when I arrived. A workday consisted of sampling transects at low tide, then exploring tide pools to look for juvenile opaleye and sea hares while simultaneously birdwatching the osprey nested on “castle rock” as referred to by locals(basically multitasking at its finest).
I am truly appreciative for this experience and have learned so much in such a short amount of time. I hope my trip to Isla Natividad was not a once in a lifetime experience, but if so, I am grateful I was able to explore and contribute to the scientific understanding of this unique island.