Wilfredo Santiago

Universidad Metropolitana
San Juan, Puerto Rico

Logbook index

On land:

At sea:

Logbook entries

08.20.2005: Puerto Rico to Seattle
I leave my Puerto Rico (home) at 9:12 am to begin an adventure as well an educational experience that I always wished in my life: Study, work and learn about Orcas (Killer Whales). It was hard to say goodbye to my Dad, Mom, and my little brother Gabriel (I miss you so much and you are the reason and strength in my life). But even in the long hours and the more than 2,000 miles that I have to travel, the sacrifice will be worth it. It was a very tiring trips but I manage to arrive and meet one of my fellow classmates, Celia. I stayed with her during that night so on Sunday go with another classmate, Laura to her uncle's house and later go to take the ferry to San Juan Island and start the program. So for this day, sacrifice is part of my experience on this place. So let go with it!

08.21.2005: Seattle to the San Juans
Today Celia and me meet Laura and the three of us go to her uncle's house. There we got pancakes and coffee and go to a tour to see Downtown Seattle. We saw beautiful parks, houses, the famous Locks where the boats comes to get to the rivers, saw salmon in the water, go the Aquarium were we saw seals, river and sea otters and even salmon. It was an incredible day. We have to fly from Seattle to Anacortes to get the ferry (having the thought that we may miss it) and be able to get to Friday Harbor Laboratories. We got on time and manage to have, in my opinion, a very cool but very, very very, cold trip. For these guys the climate was good but for me, a tropical guy, it was a freezing nightmare. Thank God Laura lent me her jacket cause I may have arrive there like an ice cube. There we met Scott, our main instructor. He picked us up and led us to the Labs. There we met Nicole, another of the classmates. Scott showed our rooms so we got wrapped for the night. Tomorrow the adventures begins and we met the others two classmates, that arrive during the night.

08.22.2005: Orcas appeared
Today all the Beam Reach Class met at Scott's Duplex that serves like our class and resource, and reference place and have a initial meeting to discuss a introduction to the program, sign waivers, and talk about our ideas for our individual research. All of us were excited to begin right way. We make some lunch and go to this place on the west side of the island called Lime Kiln. This place is state park and also a spot location to watch, identify and record the pods of the southern residents pods of orcas. Man just a couples of hours there and out of nowhere, ORCAS APPEARED!!!!!. It was a moment I cannot describe, such an emotional and incredible experience. Seeing this animal live, in his environment, knowing in the main reason why I'm doing this and why I'm going to study marine sciences, is something that no word or expression can express. I felt so complete, so happy and so proud I made this far in my life is so rewarding. All of us are so grateful for the experience and motivated us to have some ideas for our research themes.

This today couldn't be better. I wish my family especially my parents and brother had watched this. But I know in my heart they felt it miles away already. So let's keep walking the path....

08.23.2005: Tours of equipment and Labs
We got today the chance to go to Val Veirs house (one of the instructors) and see his equipment on orca acoustics. There we learned how to get directions on navigational ways. It was very hard for me at first but thanks to Celia's help I manage to get to it. Thanks Celia! Val showed us his equipment and how it works, it was quite impressive to see it. Also today we got a tour about the FHL and its operations. It was good. So good that today I received a package from home, thanks mom.

08.24.2005: Chuck Greene and satellite tagging
We got a really good talk about satellite tagging. It was great. It reminded me about the work we do with manatees and sea turtles in PR. I hope in the future to talk to the person who gave it, Chuck Greene. The rest of the day it was pretty cool. ;)

08.25.2005: Fred Felleman and wildlife management
Fred Felleman talked to us today. Man that guy gave some of the best quotes on the environmental topics I ever heard of. I will appreciate a lot of what he said to us. Especially this quote: "Wildlife management has nothing to do with managing wildlife, but everything to do with managing people."

08.26.2005: Swim test and rowing to town
Man this day was good and the same time bad for me. It was good cause Scott gave us some lessons on rowing but then said to us that we need to take a swim test. Me, a swim test? On this water? This cold? Uh-uh. I cannot tolerate the temperature in this place how I'm gonna get to the water?!!!! Well, I have to do it. I watched how Courtney, Nicole, Celia, Laura, and even Brett enjoy the ride but for me it was a hard time. I jumped and as soon I touched that water I got so freaking cold that my body has never been so numb for hours.

Later on the afternoon I row to town with Nicole and Courtney. It took a couple of hours and scares too but we made it. Everything was cool until some drunken guy start to hit on the girls. It gets me mad but I manage to get the entire group out. Even though we had a great time. I get back but this time walking with Laura, who walked to town with Celia after picking some berries on the road. Celia took my place on the boat cause my arms where hurting so much. At the end we have a good time.

08.27.2005: Weekend
During Saturday and Sunday we went to do some shopping for the dinners we need to make during the week and do laundry. These days were peaceful and everyone kept their time reading, researching or resting. It was a good weekend. For me, I was anxious to for Monday cause I will have a necropsy to perform. Nice! I was so rusty cause I haven't perform one in months. Is good to get back in action.

08.29.2005: Necropsy day!
Today I assisted on a necropsy on a Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) and in a Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii). It was my first porpoise. I learned a lot from this experience and enjoy it especially looking the reaction of my classmates at the necropsy. The photos speak for themselves.