First things first, congratulations to the winners of the pub quiz, Ali, Yaz, Jake and Luke, despite stating the area of Tenerife to be 280,000km². For reference, the area of the UK is only 243,610 km². The quiz was Tenerife themed, but it was varied. Other questions included:
-What is the Latin name of the Tenerife bumblebee (Bombus terrestris canariensis)
-What birds pollinate the bell flower (the chiffchaff and the chaffinch)
-What does Mount Teide mean (the Devil)
-In what division do Tenerife play in football (second, apparently)
Half the groups didn’t even bother answering this last question, because they weren’t sure whether the answer should be a number or a word. To be fair, that’s more forgivable than a question raised by a certain zoologist ‘what species is a Metapod?’ It’s a Pokemon, Imogen Cooke.
The next morning, we relocated to another hostel in the mountains, where we spent 2 days collecting data for our group research projects and getting footage for our videos. We have come up with a variety of projects among us, including observational studies on pollinators relating to island biogeography, choice experiments involving lizards (‘these lizards are frugivores… but we fed them peanut butter’) and projects about plants’ adaptations to different environmental conditions- these ones were good because if the data wasn’t interesting we could just leaf it out. At the end of the first project day we gave our assessed presentations, demonstrating perfect time-keeping skills that pleased Juliet greatly. It was touch-and-go for a second when the Crustacean Sensations stated that their research (an investigation into hermit crab boldness) was of wider scientific importance ‘because it’s worth 10% of our grade’, but they were quick to assure us they had some better reasons too.
In the evening we had two short lectures, the first being from Tom about cetaceans (whales and dolphins) that can be seen around the island. The most commonly seen cetaceans are short-finned pilot whales, common dolphins, and bottlenose dolphins, but there have been humpback whales and orcas sighted in the past! Jason gave his first ever lecture about sea birds, touching on their adaptive counter-colouration, wing morphology and flying techniques, and their impressive migratory and navigational abilities. Did you know that recent research has found swifts to fly for up to 300 days without landing once? COOL!
Today was the day we’ve all been waiting for: whale watching day! And now we knew how to identify anything if we were lucky enough to see it. The sun was shining when we all clambered out of the minibuses at the harbour, and we were quick to change into shorts and sun cream up. It wasn’t long before we were on the boat, speeding towards a group of short-finned pilot whales. They swam right up alongside us, which was whaley fin-tastic, and dolphin-ately more than we’d expected. Nobody spotted a Zino’s petrel, which is good news for Jason, who promised to buy us all drinks for life if we did. Better luck next year, kids.
Jason pointed out yellow-legged gulls and ospreys on the way back to the marina, and Tom explained that the vertical streaks in the cliffs were formed when magma was forced up through the existing rock with high pressure from below. I have to say, this trip has changed my opinion of sea birds and rocks.