Sunday, December 15, 2013

Galapagos Penguins

By Jason

I really wanted to see Galapagos Penguins.  They were the main reason I wanted to come to the Galapagos.

Galapagos Penguins only live in the Galapagos.  They are a little bit bigger than 1 ½ feet and they weigh about 5 ½ pounds.  They are very small.  Also, they are the second smallest species of penguin.

Galapagos penguins are the only penguins that go north of the equator.


The penguins stay in the Galapagos.  They eat small fish and sometimes crustaceans.  They eat during the day and go on land at night.


There are only 1,500 Galapagos penguins.  They are endangered.  They are the rarest species of penguins in the world even rarer than Yellow-eyed Penguins which live in New Zealand.  The New Zealand penguins are still pretty rare.

The number of Galapagos penguins can be hurt by El Niño because their food goes farther underwater or farther away.  My sister Jamie wrote about El Niño in her post about sea lions.


Galapagos penguins mate for life and probably don’t divorce.  They breed every other year and lay one or two eggs.  The eggs take 38-40 days to hatch with both parents helping out.

Sea Lions

By Jamie

We saw a lot of sea lions and some fur seals while we were in The Galapagos.  I like them because they look so cute and they come sooo close to you!  Most animals in the Galapagos aren’t scared of humans because humans only started coming to the Galapagos about 500 years ago.

The first picture shows a sea lion that visited us on our boat.

The next picture is from Isla Genovesa (Isla means island in Spanish).

Male sea lions can weigh up to 550 pounds.  Females are smaller.  They can be about 5 to 8 feet long.  They’re related to California sea lions, but Galapagos sea lions are a little bit smaller.


Males compete to get and keep a territory.  The territory is for breeding with a harem.  A harem means a lot of females, typically between 5 and 25.  Males keep their territory for only a few months because it takes a lot of energy and they can’t eat while defending a territory.

They breed from May to January.  Females have a single pup each year.  The mothers nurse for 11 months.

The population of sea lions ranges between 20,000 and 50,000.  One of the big threats to them is El Niño.  El Niño is a warming of the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

El Niño hurts the sea lions because the fish they eat move further underwater to avoid the surface because it is too warm for them.  It takes a lot of energy for the sea lions to go far underwater.

El Niño happens about every two to seven years.  But these El Niño events are usually weak.  Major El Niño events happened about 30-40 years apart until 1972.  Since then they have happened about every 10 years apart.  People think that it is happening more frequently now because of climate change.

A sea lion was playing with us while we were snorkeling.  It came two feet away!  It was sooo cool!

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Incas

By Jamie and Jason

The Incas began in Cusco, Peru, and eventually their empire stretched all the way up and down the western coast of South America.  The Incas also had emperors who they believed were gods.  The Inca emperors were called Sapa Incas.  It means the only Inca.  Here are some of the emperors:

  • Manco Capac
  • Pachacuti
  • Tupac Inca
  • Huayna Capac
  • Huascar
  • Atahualpa

The most important Inca gods were:

  • Inti the sun god
  • Viracocha – creator of the world

The Inca empire lasted about 100 years in the 1400s and 1500s.  The Spanish came and conquered the Incas.

The Incas spoke Quechua (sounds like KAY-CHWA).

How the Incas built structures
The Incas built roads that stretched 15,000 miles all the way from Colombia to Chile and Argentina.  They also built structures for worshipping their gods and other structures that they lived in.  The Incas built the structures by using small stones to carve other stones for the walls.  Between the stones there was NO mortar!  They fit the stones together so you can’t even fit a needle in the middle.  This kind of wall was only used for special and important places.

Inca road near Machu Picchu
The Incas also built another kind of wall.  This wall used mud as mortar.  They built the walls, windows, and doors, slanted in so the structures would be strong in earthquakes.  When an earthquake happened both kinds of their walls didn’t fall down because they were so sturdy.

Jamie's drawing of the two different kinds of Inca walls
A perfect Inca wall at Quricancha (where Incas worshipped the sun god)
Jamie in front of another kind of Inca wall (less perfect)
Jason in front of a similar wall
Here is some information on chaskis or Inca messengers.  Chaskis are like people telephones.  Chaskis ran over the roads and told other chaskis the message.  They could get a message 250 miles in a day.  Remember, the Incas had 15,000 miles of cobblestone roads.  Only important people were allowed to use the roads.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is an Inca site.  It is high in the mountains.  The people that lived there were Inca priests and important people.  The emperors went to Machu Picchu every year to worship the Inca gods and maybe for a vacation.

Jamie's drawing of Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Jason's drawing of the Puma Stone at Machu Picchu
The real Puma Stone
Here are the animals that we saw at Machu Picchu:

  • Chinchillas
  • Llamas
  • Lizard

Our Gammo (Grandmother) with a llama
The Inca empire was not the first civilization in South America.  There were many earlier civilizations, including the Moche and Chimu.
Jason's drawing of Moche and Chimu pottery

The End

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Condors in Colca Canyon

By Jamie and Jason

When we went to the Colca Canyon (in Peru), we saw two Andean condors.  We wanted to learn more about them, so we looked up information about them, and made this post.

Its wingspan is up to 10 1/2 feet.  It has the longest wingspan of any bird.  It's the biggest bird that can fly.  Its weight is up to 33 pounds.  The Andean condor's body length is 4 feet (average) when it is fully grown (almost as big as Jason).  They need wind to fly, because they are so heavy.  They glide on wind currents.  Because of this, they need to live in windy areas.  They live along the coast of western South America, and in the Andes mountains.

Condors are carnivores.  They are scavengers, and they act like a clean-up crew, by cleaning up the leftovers from dead animals.  They're actually a type of vulture.

They are endangered, and they only have one chick every two years.  The Andean condor is in better shape than its California condor cousin.  The Andean condor gets some help through breeding programs.

Andean Condor we saw in Colca Canyon, Peru
Close-up of Condor

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blue Morpho Butterflies

By Jamie & Jason

This is our post about blue morpho butterflies.  The reason we are doing this post is we wondered about morphos and why the top side of their wings are blue.  Also, 1st grade at our school will be studying and taking care of butterflies in the spring.

Facts about Blue Morpho Butterflies

The top side appears to be iridescent blue, but isn’t really blue.  Their wings have nanostructures, or very very small structures, that reflect blue light.

Photo from Wikipedia

The bottom side is brown with spots that look like eyes.  The brown provides camouflage from predators when the wings are closed.

Bottom side of blue morphos (while eating fermented fruit)

When it’s flying the iridescent blue and brown flash making it seem like the butterfly is appearing and disappearing.  Birds and insects eat morpho butterflies.

Blue morphos eat fermented fruit.  Fermented means rotten fruit that has alcohol in it.  They eat the fruit through a proboscis, which is kind of like a straw, and is their mouth.

Blue morpho butterflies only live 3-4 weeks as butterflies because of what they eat (alcohol isn’t so good for butterflies just as it isn’t for humans).  Their entire lifespan is 115 days including when they are caterpillars.

Blue Morpho butterflies live in Mexico, Central America, and the northern parts of South America.  They have a 5-8 inch wingspan and they’re one of the biggest butterflies in the world.

NISE Network
Rainforest Alliance
Youtube video that zooms into the wings of a blue morpho

(Note - the Wikipedia photo is provided under the Creative Commons license - more info here)

Sunday, September 8, 2013


By Jamie

In Costa Rica we went to the...

We went horseback riding

We did a night tour

We saw monkeys above the road

We went to the Manuel Antonio National Park

We went to a chocolate tour at Cafe Cabure.

We did all this in the past week and a half.

I learned chocolate grows inside a fruit as beans on a tree.  The tree is called a cacao tree.  The cacao tree produces fruit pods that are shaped like footballs.  The seeds of those fruits eventually are turned into chocolate.
How Chocolate is Made:
- First, the wet seeds are fermented.
- After the seeds are fermented they are dried.
- Next, the beans are roasted.
- Then the beans are shelled.
- After that they are ground.
- The heat from the grinding turns the beans into a liquid.
- Last, they put in sugar and milk and other ingredients to make the chocolate.

Jason at Fundacion Corcovado (the turtle place)

By Jason
At Drake Bay, Costa Rica

Jason with Rob James, Director of Fundacion Corcovado

At Fundacion Corcovado we put in turtle nest traps.  The way they work, when a turtle hatches it will hit the trap and stay.  It doesn’t hurt the turtle, but it keeps them in one place, so that they don’t escape and they can count how many turtles hatched.  After they count how many turtles have hatched, they pick them up and put them into a bucket to put them on the sand on the beach so they can go toward the ocean.  Why they put them on the sand is so they have a better chance of reaching the ocean, and they don’t get killed by crabs and birds that might want to eat them.

Why they put them on the beach instead of the ocean is they want them to remember the beach so that they lay their eggs there when they get to be adults.

On the runway walking to the beach where the turtles' nests are

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Monkey Bridges near Manuel Antonio National Park, Costa Rica

By Jason

1. About the Monkey Bridges
Monkey bridges are blue ropes so that monkeys don't have to walk across the road every time they have to cross. Before, monkeys were either using the power lines or walking across the road. Some monkeys were electrocuted and hit by cars.
2. How the Monkey Bridges Began
Two girls saved up money to buy land. Then they created monkey bridges so that monkeys could cross from one side of the road to another, but still some were getting electrocuted, but none were getting hit by cars.

They raised up the population by more than double the Titi monkeys. Ten years ago there were only 1,200, but since the monkey bridges began, there kept being more and more Titi monkeys. There are now 3,700.

The two girls made an organization called Kids Saving The Rainforest.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Children's Eternal Rainforest

By Jamie

We're in Monteverde, Costa Rica!
We got here by:

  1. Taking a plane to Atlanta;
  2. Taking a plane to San Jose;
  3. Staying overnight in a hotel;
  4. Taking a 4-hour bus ride to Monteverde! 

In Monteverde, we went to the Children's Eternal Rainforest.
Facts and videos about this rainforest:

The Children's Eternal Rainforest has 60 species of amphibians, 101 species of reptiles, 425 species of birds, and 121 species of mammals that represent 50.5% of the total species of terrestrial vertebrates in Costa Rica.  Terrestrial vertebrates are animals that live on land that have backbones.

Here is a video report from Jamie about how the Children's Eternal Rainforest started.

(Note - in the video Jamie talks about kids from Sweden raising one million dollars.  This is what we were told by one of the people we interviewed.  We've since confirmed that the still amazing amount was actually $100,000)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jason on jaguars

Video of Jason talking about the last pair of jaguars in the rainforest here (Children's Eternal Rainforest in Monteverde, Costa Rica)

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

(:Our trip:)

By Jamie

My family and I are going on a trip for a year. I have a brother. His name is Jason. My mom's name is Lauri. My dad's name is Larry, (I call him Diddy). I also have a cat. Her name is Lindy.
Here are some things that we will be doing.
  • Dogsledding
  • Swimming
  • Going to language school
  • Exploring the rainforest
  • Going on a safari
  • White water rafting
  • Volunteer at a school
  • Going to the beach
  • Look at glaciers
  • Explore ruins
  • See lots of animals
  • Visit the desert
  • Ride an elephant
  • Go to museums
  • Visit family
  • See a castle
Here are some places that we will go to.
  • Costa Rica
  • Peru
  • Galapagos
  • Australia
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • India
  • Zambia
  • Namibia
  • Europe (in Europe, Spain, France, Italy, Holland, and Norway)
  • The Arctic (in The Arctic, Svalbard)
I am most excited about going to India because we might get to ride on an elephant, and because my dad has gone there a lot, when he was there, he got me an Indian dress. I am least excited about not seeing my friends for a long time.
I will not be going to school. I will be getting home schooled, so my mom and dad teach me when we are on the trip.
On the trip I will be in 3rd grade, and my brother will be in 1st grade.
I am so excited to go on the trip!
P.S. I will be blogging some more about our trip and posting videos also.  (: :)The End...of my first blog post.