Island hopping off of Amorgos

Hi everyone,

I’m a little behind on the blog so the next several posts are going to be picture-heavy and text-light. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve been so wrapped up with work lately that if I wait for time to write out all the stories in detail it’ll be about time to start next summer’s field research!

A big part of this summer’s research has been island hopping, catching lizards from lots of different islands – and thus lots of different ecological contexts – to determine how they are different or similar. We set out from Amorgos, a large island to the south and east of Naxos and traveled to the two tiny islands, north and east of the island:

IslandHopping-Sunrise IslandHopping-Pretty

We set off from Amorgos early in the morning. Here are a few views of the island as we chugged along in our rented fishing boat. Our captain, Yannis, didn’t speak a word of english, but his salty, weather-beaten personality spoke volumes that didn’t require translation. He had a quick smile and was anxious to talk about Amorgos and fishing. Through Johannes we were treated with many a story on the 90 minute boat ride out to the islands.

Many a story and some more pretty scenery:

IslandHopping-Cliffs IslandHopping-Island Those cliffs up there are some of the tallest vertical drops anywhere in the cyclades at around 150 m (around 30 stories)! Seeing them in the morning sun was stunning. We boated right underneath them.

IslandHopping-Island1

Here’s one of the islands we visited, laying in our wake as we moved on to the next. You can see it’s fairly small, but the lizards on it were really cool! These remote, uninhabited islands are rarely visited, even by fishermen. The number of scientists ever setting foot on them could likely be counted on one hand. It was a real treat to be one of the first to look closely at the island’s lizards.

IslandHopping-Panorama

Here’s the last island we visited that day. It had this beautiful long harbor protecting it from the waves constantly rocking that stretch of sea. One family lives on the island and grazes goats. It is remote to the extreme. In the above map, keep moving north and east until you hit the next cluster of islands. I suspect they are the only 3 people living on any of those islands and it’s a many-hour boat ride to the nearest grocery store. On the flipside, they live in a staggeringly beautiful setting! The lizards here were also amazing! They were near giants – about 50% larger and heavier than many of the individuals of the same species I was finding on Naxos. Their bite force was scalable as well – the largest male bit over 18 newtons – many adult males on Naxos are biting with half of that force. They were super fun to catch and get a good look at.

On the way back, our fisherman driver talked about the nets he’d be setting tonight and, on a whim, I decided to offer to come along with him the next morning to help haul them in. I’ll tell you about that adventure next!

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