Punta San Juan Soundscape

It’s October and I am outside on the balcony of the Punta San Juan reserve in a tank top and shorts at 12pm as I prepare for a soundscape. I looked around and observed the fur seals, kelp forests, and rock structures below me before closing my eyes, laying on the bench, and listening…

Sounds were everywhere. The fur seals communicated to each other with yells and grunts. Our Peruvian counterparts spoke to each other in Spanish. The spilling waves of the Pacific crashed on to each other, passed through the kelp forest, and lapped on to the shore. Guano birds chirped and soared overhead.

The sounds felt like they were right next to me. They took me back to my experiences of the day… watching the seals and penguins, counting their abundance, and recording their behaviors. Listening to the seals calls, I pondered how they go about their lives, the struggles of finding food, a mate, and a niche. The waves moved through the kelp and I thought about the rich ecology of this place. The kelp swayed with the waves. The fish, penguins, and seals frolicked below the water. The wind was rather quiet where I laid, as the building blocked the brunt of it. However, on the point of the island where the Chesapeake Semester group was earlier, we experienced some of the strongest winds in the country of Peru. The guano dust was everywhere, and while I listened to the wind, I thought of how much of it was in my hair, on my clothes, and quite frankly, in my lungs. How did the guano harvesters work with this product, most without respirators? The seals continued to call to each other, as voices of my fellow Chesapeake Semester students began to approach. Little did I know, the voices of the seals eerily continued into the night and barely ceased during our time at Punta San Juan.


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