Trip to Central Island

|Trip to Central Island

This Sunday, Field School students took advantage of the day off with a trip to Central Island, an island in (you guessed it) the center of Lake Turkana. Both Dr. Martins and Dr. Lepre were on hand to offer ecological and geological expertise.

The day started off bright and early with a walk across the Turkwel River to meet the lorry. We drove to Kalakol to board the boats that would take us across the lake. After a refreshing hour on the water, we arrived!

The mighty vessels that took us across Lake Turkana.

The mighty vessels that took us across Lake Turkana.

Dr. Lepre talks to the students about Central Island geology.

Dr. Lepre talks to students about Central Island geology.

tricia katie stacey eloise

Tricia, Katie, Stacey, and Eloise are ready and eager to get hiking. Stacey dutifully drinks her rehydration electrolytes in preparation for a rousing day.

Central Island is a volcanic island with several craters, three of which have filled with rainwater over many years, forming three lakes: Flamingo Lake, Crocodile Lake, and Tilapia Lake. Our first stop was Flamingo Lake. We hiked up to the rim of the crater to look down on a beautiful blue-green lake dotted with pink flamingos – what a view!

A view of Flamingo Lake from the crater's rim.

A view of Flamingo Lake from the crater’s rim.

The group hikes down into the crater to get a closer look.

The group hikes down into the crater to get a closer look.

We hiked down from the rim to get a closer look at the lake and its avian inhabitants. The lake is eutrophic, or nutrient-rich, and hosts a unique community of algae, plankton, and some invertebrates, including nematodes. No fish, however, live in Flamingo Lake.

group flamingo

Students make their way to the lake margin.

We continued to hike around the perimeter of the lake and enjoy the view. Baby flamingos waded near the lake’s edge, butterflies fluttered by, and several species of wildflowers were in bloom.

Tricia and Letty snap photos as Lucy enjoys the view.

Tricia and Letty snap photos as Lucy enjoys the view.

Field School students and TBI staff after the hike back up the crater.

Field School students and TBI staff after the hike back up the crater.

Our next stop was Crocodile Lake. After a short lunch, we were ready for another hike. Unlike Flamingo Lake, Crocodile Lake is home to vertebrates – not only the famous reptiles in its name, but also to beautiful blue tilapia. There were several crocodiles in the lake, and a few eagle-eyed students saw one leap out of the water and snatch a bird out of mid-air! We hiked up a small slope to see the lake from above and catch a cool breeze.

Crocodile Lake

Crocodile Lake – luckily the crocodiles don’t hang out near the water’s edge.

A view of Crocodile Lake from above.

A view of Crocodile Lake from above.

Then it was time to pile back into the boats, say goodbye to Central Island, and head off across Lake Turkana back to TBI-Turkwel. What a spectacular day – the students returned exhausted but happy, ready to start week two of the geology module.

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:52+00:00 October 2nd, 2014|Field Schools|Comments Off on Trip to Central Island

About the Author:

Hello! I am Abby Koppa, the TBI Field School TA for Fall 2014, a third-year PhD student at Stony Brook University in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and a TBI Graduate Fellow. My research interests include the nutritional and mechanical properties of East African savanna plants, paleoecology, and hominin paleodiet.