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Cellist serenads Galapagos wildlife

Jan 1, 2003

On a recent stop at the Galapagos Islands, a crewmember of the steelbarque Picton Castle had an intimate encounter with a group of frigatebirds, according to the vessel's shoreside spokesman Angelo Cerchione. Instead of going ashore on Isla San Cristóbal for an afternoon of leisure after a long passage from Panama, second engineer Claire Yannacone brought her cello on deck for a quiet moment to herself.

After sawing through a run of arpeggios, Yannacone settled into Bach's "Unaccompanied Suite for Cello." Before long, a massive frigatebird swooped out of the sky and landed on the vessel's taff rail. Unnerved by the sudden appearance of such a large bird (wingspan of the magnificent frigatebird can be eight feet across) and aware of the frigatebird's anxious temperament, Yannacone faced a decision: should I keep playing and assume the bird is enjoying the piece, or should I run for cover?

Yannacone decided to continue playing. She kept up a steady flow of classical pieces, until, exhausted, she could play no more. As she set down her bow after an hour and a half of constant playing, she returned the appreciative stares of her audience: 12 frigatebirds that had all gathered on the rail for the evening concert.

"They seemed to like the low notes," Yannacone reported.

The barque Picton Castle, which is making an 18-month circumnavigation with paying passengers, was en route to the Pitcairn Islands at press time.


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