When speaking of the Galapagos Islands, it is difficult not to think of giant tortoises, adventurous tours and, of course, the pristine and rich ocean surrounding them. The community describes the ocean as a provider of resources and, at the same time, a place for fun and recreation. Moreover, the ocean itself highlights global problems, such as climate change, and alternatives to mitigate the causes and consequences of these problems. An effective tool to raise awareness and build resilience to environmental problems is the connection of the young community with the ocean. Sports have become key to achieving this for the Charles Darwin Foundation´s Shark-Ambassadors Science Club.
From June to December 2021, the Marine Module of the Science Club was held mostly outdoors, permitting us to address various topics related to the ocean. The club members participated in several marine-related sports and got the chance to observe marine life and understand the different ecosystems that coexist within the ocean.
Tortuga Bay beach was chosen for surfing, recognized for its beauty and good waves. The Santa Cruz Surf Club coached the Shark Ambassadors, starting with cleaning the board, going through warm-up and balance exercises before entering the water and catching some waves. Finally, a mini championship was held, and 17-year-old Rony Chica was the winner. During the activity, the importance of Tortuga Bay for the green turtle was discussed, as this beach is essential for its nesting and survival. In fact, most of the Santa Cruz Surf Club actively participates in each nesting season to identify and take care of the nests.
There was an introductory apnea activity with breathing and relaxation exercises on Los Alemanes beach; after this, the students walked to “Las Grietas” to perform different breath-hold exercises in the water. The students formed a deeper and more solemn connection with the ocean during the training sessions. The Shark Ambassadors observed some species inside the caves, such as parrotfish, Pacific sergeant major, and moray eels.
The students complimented the Marine Module with different workshops and lessons on oceanography, Galapagos fisheries, and the results of CDF´s research projects like the Population Studies of Marine Birds project. The best part was enjoying the ocean while acknowledging the importance of having a healthy ocean.