Sense and Sensibility

DSCN0973I am swaying slightly as the boat rises with the waves. The wildlife is unmistakable and the atmosphere is comforting as I am weaving through the Ballestas Islands by boat. As the saltwater sprays upon my face I close my eyes and begin to let my senses tell me a story.

As the sun warms my shoulders, the cool breeze washes over me, but is refreshing not cold. It is a calm afternoon on the water though the island is not quiet at all. Approaching Ballestas, I can begin to hear the birds in large groups descending on the island. They are echoing each other and create a chorus of caws. Without even opening my eyes I understand the vastness of hue he populations of guano birds. And I now know that they are guano birds.Why? I can smell them. It hits you instantaneously as a wall of foul smelling air. I open my eyes and confirm my senses. Thousands upon thousands of birds are perched upon this guano laden, jagged island. They consume the area along side sea lions and mussels and starfish and crabs.


To me, this abundance of wildlife is striking. It seems like the populations are thriving. Contrary to my initial thought, these populations are incomparable to those of the guano reserve in Punta San Juan. The nature of this tourist attraction is the very reason for its unnatural state. It makes sense. I look up and I am twenty feet from a sea lion and so are three other boats full of tourists. This is very unnatural for these species, but it is a way for our human culture to develop a relationship with this environment. By experiencing the beauty of the area, we may begin to see it as an important component in our environment. This is beginning of the relationship between environment and society.



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