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Esteban Agudo is a 3rd year PhD student in UNC Chapel Hill’s Biology department. For Valentine’s Day this year, Esteban shares why he loves the Galapagos Islands. 

Esteban taking data on fish communities on Roca Pitt, San Cristobal.

Conducting science in Galapagos is – of course – the dream for any biologist. Living in San Cristobal for 6 months while working on my PhD research, in the place that inspired Charles Darwin to write one of the most influential works of our time, was an amazing opportunity. But there is a lot more to working in San Cristobal, Galapagos than just looking at the sea and watching sea lions daily from my office window, or diving with amazing creatures such as sea turtles, sharks, and the occasional whale. It meant the opportunity to work in one of the most amazing natural laboratories in the world. The Galapagos is a place where intrinsic variable conditions allow us to measure how temperature affects marine systems and understand better the effects of climate change.

Waiting on La Barcaza to take data samples in San Cristobal.

But behind being an amazing place, Galapagos is also a place to get to know people. For me, fieldwork is teamwork. I can’t imagine working in Galapagos without the support of an entire network of people including other researchers, the GSC staff, students from both UNC and USFQ, Galapagos National Park rangers, diving crew, and boat captains. All of them have taught me so much during my time on the islands.

Once reason Esteban loves the Galapagos is because of the beauty of nature, such as this gorgeous sea turtle.

I love Galapagos because I love listening to the captain’s stories about the sea while we wait between dives. Or the diving adventures of my diving buddies while we take a quick snack during fieldwork. Or just having conversations with the GSC crew during lunch every day. I love Galapagos because for me it is not only a place to admire nature or doing science. It is a place where I can sit and enjoy a couple of drinks with friends while we watch a fútbol game, or just admire a beautiful sunset amongst friends. Galapagos is that type of place – a place that reminds you why you decided to become a scientist.

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