Today was truly an incredible day. It may have been my favorite day abroad yet. I thought I had seen most of Mallorca’s landscapes, but I was very wrong. We took an excursion to the National Park islet of Cabrera, which is about 10 miles off the south coast of Mallorca. It has been a protected area since the late 1980s (before which it was used by the military) so it’s a beautifully pristine environment. We took an hour-long boat ride there, and it was interesting to see the landscape changes from the Port of Colònia de Sant Jordi to the islet. The port was filled with boats (obviously) and although the water was fairly clear, there wasn’t any seagrass or visible marine life. As we approached the islet, some people saw dolphins and the water became crystal clear and bright turquoise and we saw vegetation on the small islands we passed. It was like a whole different place.
View from the boat ride to the island.
Nora explores Cabrera.
Once we got to Cabrera, we took a quick but steep 15-minute hike up to a small fortress that overlooks the island. Today was really hot and unusually humid for Spain, so by the time we reached the top we were pretty tired. The view was worth it, though. We could see the hills and the white houses of the (three!) island residents and the blue, blue ocean. We also saw lots of plants; it’s surprisingly lush for a sandy island.
The view from a fortress on the island.
Of course after the hike we went straight to the ocean (like, bellyflopped in). The water was warm and clear and we saw lots of marine life while snorkeling. Professor Mateu also snorkeled with us and helped identify different organisms. We saw a huge Echinaster sepositus (Google it–you won’t be disappointed) and sea grasses and many types of fish. It was surreal swimming through schools of tiny silver fish and then coming face-to-face with a two-foot long gray fish. There weren’t many tourists on the island, and the ecosystem reflected that. Pictures to come!
Snorkel gear sitting on the shore where we went snorkeling.
On the boat ride home we stopped in a cave and got to jump in the water–one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had in Mallorca. The water was so blue and I could look down and see the rocky bottom twenty feet deep. We saw a few jellyfish and big schools of fish swimming around and below us. The water just seemed to glow from beneath. The whole Cabrera trip was magical because we came so close to nature.
Cora dries her hair after swimming in the cave.
Meanwhile we’ve been working away on our final projects. Our task is to compare and contrast two marine areas (one protected and one not) and consider the implications of building a marina in both environments. My group is working on the Illetas and Platja Ca’n Pere Antoni (the touristy beach near old city). We’re planning on gathering quantitative data by “sectioning” off parts of both beaches and counting and qualifying the organisms we see. This way we can get an idea of how healthy and biodiverse each area is. From here, we will be able to better understand the possible implications of building in the areas.
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