A couple of days ago I went out for my first field trip with ORCA. The destinations of the trip were the Ballestas Islands, Paracas National Reserve and Wakama Natural Refuge.
Our first day started already 4 in the morning. After riding bus, taxi and boat we finally reached Ballestas Islands. The wildlife of the islands consists of marine birds, sea lions and fur seals and the area is supposed to be a protected conservation area. It was amazing to finally see and hear the noise from big groups of sea lions with impressive big males. Right now it’s breeding season and the Alfa males surround himself by females and pups. The male mate with the females and protect them and the pups. Our mission was to take photos of the sea lions to do be able to do population counts later. The population of sea lion is reducing at the same time as the price for going to the island is increasing. The question is how the natinonal reserve use the extra money and in which way it helps to conserve the animals.
Our next stop was Paracas National Reserve, and we first went out to take photos for population counts of fur seals. The fur seals population is also reducing. The fur seals are more sensitive to human presence and they choose to live in hidden places.
In the same reserve we went to a beach filled up with fishing boats.
The national park claims to protect the wildlife but at the same time fishing without regulations is allowed and the sea lions are still a comptetors of the fish for the fishermen.
At the beach with the fishing boats we found over 20 dead sea lions.
When the sun went down we arrived to Wakama beach there ORCA used to have their base. In the night we slept at the beach, under the stars and to the sounds of the waves from the ocean.
Next day we walked along the beach to do observations and we saw a lot of beautiful wild dolphins.
We also found stranded sea lions and porpoises, many marine mammal strand after the building of an oil dock. The most interesting finding we did was a carapace from a sea turtle. No one has seen turtles at Wakama beach for 30 years. Maybe the sea turtles that was born at the beach 30 years ago now have reached their breeding age and are going back to the beach their the once were born.
It was a really rewarding field trip and we came home with a lot of information. It was interesting to see both the dead and alive animals and come so close to the wild marine life.