Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009

December 13, 2009
Our trip is coming to an end. This morning we bid our farewells to PSJ and hit the road back to Lima. This is the fifth time that I have said goodbye to this place and every time I leave feeling inspired and refreshed for the conservation efforts that so many of us have dedicated our careers towards. Standing on one of the bluffs overlooking a few hundred pelicans splashing in the water before they take off for their morning feeding, I feel a sense of tranquility that is hard to find in our modern bustling, electronic world. I can see several fur seals in the background lounging on some rocks in the morning sun – the same rocks that we swam out towards yesterday. Every few minutes a tern or cormorant swoops by. It’s a relaxing feeling to gaze at all this wildlife. I always feel reassured knowing there are still magical places left in our world – where the wildlife is able to thrive. At the same time though, I feel a sense of trepidation for the unknown future. Our world is becoming a smaller and smaller place and there are far too many instances where human encroachment and unsustainable management of our natural resources has caused the decimation of wild animals. It’s a strange sensation to feel like you are standing at the edge of the earth staring at an amazing ecosystem, but still have a cell phone that can pick up a signal from the town a mile away. It’s even stranger to be half a hemisphere away from home, but still be able to Skype home with a webcam and show my wife the sunset.

The threats facing the ecosystem at PSJ are not light ones. Development in the area may alter the environment and cause pollution. Continued overfishing of the anchoveta stocks depletes population sizes of all the wildlife and makes them less resilient to other threats such as El Niño events. New or emerging diseases pose an unknown threat to the populations. Our field work will help to characterize the impact of some of these threats relating to population health and evaluate future concerns.

As I write this sitting in the back of the truck heading back to Lima, I feel a nice sense of accomplishment with this trip. In the past few years, the Chicago Zoological Society and partner institutions have developed several strong field projects at PSJ that will help to conserve and protect this ecosystem for future generations. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the guano reserve system in Peru. These reserves were initially established to provide a safe haven for seabird populations, so their resulting guano (nitrogen rich waste products) could be harvested for fertilizer. Today, the reserves play a new role protecting numerous species and providing them a protected habitat. The Peruvian government has made an important decision to move this reserve system underneath a new environmental ministry, so that a main focus will be to manage them as nature reserves. Our colleagues at Cayetano University our posed the assume part of the oversight for PSJ under this new management plan and also to develop a model at PSJ for sustainable conservation that can be applied to the other reserves. My hope is to continue to work with them and lend assistance wherever possible. Patricia and I had a nice conservation yesterday evening discussing how we can incorporate health monitoring into these models and expand it to other sites in the coastal Peruvian reserve system to protect the wildlife from future threats.

I hope that you have enjoyed being able to share part of this trip with us. PSJ is truly an amazing place and I’m excited that we could share part of it with you. The Chicago Zoological Society is working to inspire conservation leadership at home, but also is making a difference half a wolrd away. Your support of CZS makes it all possible. Thanks for sharing this amazing experience with us.

Mike Adkesson, DVM, DACZM
Veterinarian – Chicago Zoological Society

Click on the dates below to read about the field work in Punta San Juan and how zoo veterinarians play an important role in conservation efforts of wildlife in their natural habitats.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009