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A local student’s adventure on Galapagos Islands

Alanna Jenkins of Wake, above, spent a month this summer on the Galapagos Island in the Pacific Ocean as a volunteer for Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Above, she points to a baby seal on shore.

by Larry S. Chowning

Alanna Jenkins of Wake had an unusual and educational summer job on the Galapagos Islands—the Pacific Ocean island chain that Charles Darwin made famous with his studies of evolution.

Jenkins was a Sea Shepherd Conservation Society volunteer who was sent to the island to do a survey on the impact of automotive traffic on the environment.

Sea Shepherd is on permanent patrol of the Galapagos Islands to help protect the unique island ecosystem, particularly turtles, sharks and sea cucumbers. Part of the patrol is determining what elements are harmfully impacting island life.
The Galapagos Islands straddles the equator in the Pacific Ocean and is 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in South America. Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island is the commercial heart of the islands and has a population of about 25,000. 

Galapagos is composed of 19 islands and dozens of other islets and volcanic rocks. The four inhabited islands are San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Isabela and Floreana.

Jenkins was on Santa Cruz from July 2 to August 6 and lived in a house rented by Sea Shepherd. She did organizational work at the island office, ran errands, and wrote a report on the impact of modern transportation in the Galapagos.

She visited Floreana, population 103, with a small group of people and helped film a documentary about the lifestyle on the islands. She also spent two nights on the island of Isabela.

“I met a lot of wonderful and interesting people,” Jenkins said. “I had the most significant life changing experience. This was my first time traveling alone, and my second time traveling internationally.

“I became very familiar with Puerto Ayora (city on Santa Cruz where she lived) and it became my home,” she said. “I miss it every day and I appreciate what the whole experience taught me about myself and life.”

Jenkins’ report was entitled “Report on excessive transportation on Santa Cruz” and can be accessed on the Sea Shepherd website at The study involved traffic counts and evaluating the impact fossil fuels have on the local environment.

Jenkins’ conclusion was that traffic on the island seems to “outweigh the need and there is unnecessary burning of large amounts of gas and significant quantities of CO2.”

Jenkins is the daughter of Larry and Jeannie Jenkins of Wake. She graduated from Middlesex High School in 2006 and is a sophomore at Sweet Briar College near Lynchburg.

posted 10.08.2008

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