Galapagos National Park – Galápagos Digital an online news website about Galapagos Fri, 18 Dec 2015 19:09:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.5.3 New “Cucumber Conflict” in Galápagos /2015/07/29/new-cucumber-conflict-in-galapagos/ /2015/07/29/new-cucumber-conflict-in-galapagos/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 18:44:53 +0000 /?p=1675 The Galápagos Sea Cucumber, Stichopus fuscus

Courtesy of Henry Nicholls / The Conservation Business. PLoS Biol 2(9): e310. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.0020310

The Galápagos Sea Cucumber, Stichopus fuscus

The potential opening of sea cucumber fishing in Galápagos has scientists and conservationists surprised  and concerned after news leaked of a July 10 agreement that would allow the collection of 500,000 of the creatures, considered vital to the marine environment.  It reignites a long dispute that has pitted fishermen against the scientific community.

Screenshot of the agreement between the park, the government and fishermen authorizing the collection of up to 500,000 sea cucumbers

Galápagos Digital

Screenshot of the agreement between the park, the government and fishermen authorizing the collection of up to 500,000 sea cucumbers

The agreement, signed by representatives of the Galápagos National Park, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries and the Governing Council of Galápagos, hasn’t been officially announced, but according to a version circulating on the internet, it would permit fishing to begin August 1st.  Following that, there would be a 5-year moratorium on further sea cucumber collection with annual monitoring of the sea cucumber population.  If the population grows to more than 11 per 100 square meters, authorities would consider lifting the moratorium.

Here is a link to the complete document (Spanish).

The problem is that after four years of a fishing ban, official population monitoring of the sea cucumbers indicates their number is far below the minimum needed to permit any fishing. The official report shows that the number of specimens averages 6 per 100 square meters, and in the words of the report: “if the density is less than 11 per 100 square meters, the resource is in a state of collapse. It is not economically and biologically sustainable to collect them.”

Population survey of sea cucumbers shows that they number fewer than 11 per 100 square meters in all but one location.

Galápagos Digital

Population survey of sea cucumbers shows that they number fewer than 11 per 100 square meters in all but one location.

Every year, the Galápagos National park and fishermen measure the populations of sea cucumbers around the islands. This year’s survey shows that in most parts of Galápagos, the population is well below healthy levels.

We are providing a link to the full survey (Spanish)

Galápagos Digital has requested further information from the Ministry of Environment and the Galápagos National Park on why the agreement was signed.  We will publish the responses as we receive them.

An observer who was at the meeting told Ecuadorian journalist Isabela Ponce Ycaza that: ”It was not easy to reach that decision … it was a tense encounter.” The journalist further quoted the observer as saying:  “The representatives of the four fishing cooperatives demanded  that the Galápagos national Park permit the capture of sea cucumbers or threatened to protest.”

Fishermen, according to the report, said that because of the decline of other fisheries, they need the sea cucumbers to make a living.   The report also noted that fishermen complained that the monitoring of sea cucumbers “was not carried out with rigor.”

That point was confirmed by a fisherman who wrote to Galápagos Digital asking to remain anonymous:  “The managers of the Galápagos Marine reserve failed” (to conduct a proper survey), he wrote.

Evidently the arguments presented by the fishing guild convinced the authorities to sign the agreement to open the cucumber fishery as part of what the signed agreement calls “a process of consultation and conciliation.”

The decision was not received well by members of the scientific community: “Opening the fishery now sends a message that Galápagos natural resources will be managed by political pressure, not by technical decisions,” one expert, who asked not to be identified, told Galápagos Digital.

Another scientist familiar with the matter, who also wishes to remain anonymous, said “This would deal a blow to a resource that in itself should not be exploited. Even after four years of closure, the fishery should not open even for another 15 years.”

Sea cucumbers are animals, not plants, and are distantly related to starfish and sea urchins. They play an important role in the ocean, feeding on algae and microscopic marine plants, and breaking down these foods into essential nutrients that feed other marine life. In addition, sea cucumbers contribute to the cleaning of the seabed. For these reasons, they are known as the “earthworms of the sea.”

In some parts of the world, sea cucumbers are considered a delicacy and in Southeast Asia, many believe that the creatures possess aphrodisiac qualities to improve sexual performance. That belief has encouraged overfishing of sea cucumbers leading to the decimation of populations.

In the early 1990s, Galapagos fishermen began to collect sea cucumbers from the waters around the islands to meet growing demand. Hundreds of people from mainland Ecuador, seeing an opportunity to make money, moved to Galapagos to participate in the sea cucumber “boom.”

Ecuadorian government efforts to curtail sea cucumber  fishing resulted in angry protests by fishermen in 1993 and 2000.

 In 1998, the then Ecuadorian President Jamil Mahuad signed the Special Law for Galapagos, creating the Galapagos Marine Reserve and imposing restrictions on immigration and fishing.  According to British writer Henry Nicholls: “In 1999, the first season in which fishing for sea cucumbers was controlled and regulated-about 800 fishermen collected more than 4 million specimens worth more $ 3.4 million in a short season of two months. “

Studies by conservation biologists at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz, working in cooperation with the Galápagos National Park, found that the sea cucumber population was severely reduced as a result of overfishing. After the government halted further fishing in January of 2000, fishermen occupied the offices of the Park and the Darwin station, taking some humans and animals hostage. The protests ended peacefully but relations between fishermen and the scientific community remain tense.

Today, the Galapagos sea cucumber, Isostichopus fuscus is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (ICUN). The “Red List” of the organization says that the population of sea cucumbers has been dramatically reduced, and states: “The area of ​​highest density known for this species, the Galapagos Islands, has had a reduction of around 80% or more . “

Sea cucumbers seized at San  Cristóbal airport in June, 2015

Galapagos National Park

Sea cucumbers seized at San Cristóbal airport in June, 2015

The area of ​​the Galapagos Marine Reserve is huge and despite constant efforts by the Galapagos National Park and the Ecuadorian Navy, it is difficult to patrol. Poachers from the mainland of Ecuador and other countries illegally catch cucumbers and other species in the reserve. As we reported in Galápagos Digital in June of this year, park officials seized 10,852 sea cucumbers at the airport of San Cristobal.  At present there is a huge black market for sea cucumbers driven by demand in China, where they are sold for $ 300 per pound.

This situation becomes more complicated as it occurs at a time of unrest in certain sectors of the islands due to  changes to the Organic Law of Special Regime for Galapagos (LOREG) approved by the National Assembly in June. Those changes led to protests in Galápagos. One change removed Participatory Management Meetings at which decisions such as opening fisheries were discussed by representatives from various sectors before being approved. “The board was not something perfect,” one Galapagueño told Galápagos Digital, “but we felt that at least we had a voice and sometimes they listened to us.”

So far there has been little official information on the matter. The procedure laid down is that once an agreement is signed, it doesn’t take legal effect before the Park management officially announces it.  That has not yet happened.

Galápagos Digital will stay on top of this story and post updates as developments occur.  Once again, the “cucumber conflict” between fishermen and conservation authorities has officials caught in a bind.

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UPDATED: Galápagos Braces for El Niño /2015/07/28/updated-galapagos-braces-for-el-nino/ /2015/07/28/updated-galapagos-braces-for-el-nino/#respond Tue, 28 Jul 2015 16:10:51 +0000 /?p=1668 This year's El Niño temperature pattern in the Pacific compared to 1997's.

NOAA

This year’s El Niño temperature pattern in the Pacific compared to 1997’s.

In Galápagos, nobody’s rolling out the welcome mat for the recurring weather phenomenon known as El Niño.  Scientists say that it’s returning this year, bringing potentially strong winds, higher ocean temperatures and lots of rainfall, a potentially devastating combination for the fragile island ecosystems.

An El Niño occurs when surface waters in the tropical sections of the Pacific become warmer than normal.  Monitoring shows a strong temperature rise, similar to the one that occurred in 1997.  The giant El Niño that struck that year and lasted into 1998 disrupted weather patterns around the world, killing an estimated 2,100 people and causing $33 billion in property damage.

“There is a 90 percent chance of occurrence of El Niño, according to prediction models and forecasting,” said Eduardo Espinoza, technical director of ecosystems at the Galápagos National Park, quoted in a park news release.

The National Center for Climate Prediction, part of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) puts the odds at greater than 90 percent with an 80% chance that it will last into the second quarter of 2016.

IguanasRangers

Galápagos National Park

Rangers from the Galápagos National Park monitor marine iguanas.

Espinoza is particularly concerned about the effect the weather changes will have on Galápagos marine iguanas that live on land but depend on algae in the ocean for their food supply.  “The marine iguanas feed primarily on green and red algae in the subtidal zone,” Espinoza said in an email to Galápagos Digital, “and these algae are the first that are affected by heating and persistence of warmer sea temperatures which lowers their abundance.”

El Niño can also be hard on the birds of Galápagos such as the blue-footed booby.  The changes in water temperature drive away the fish that the boobies eat, leaving the birds to starve. Experts say the boobies don’t reproduce under these conditions.

“Species that are on the border of survival or extinction might actually be tipped over the edge,” Dr. Stuart Banks, a marine scientist with the Charles Darwin Foundation, told Galápagos Digital last year. “We’ve already seen several possible extinctions.”

Scientists from Quito’s University of San Francisco and a group of American scientists from the University of North Carolina will meet in Galápagos in September to monitor some of the key species of the Galápagos marine reserve, including the iguanas.  They’ll be working closely with technicians from the Galápagos National park as they try to assess the effects of El Niño and gather data on the ocean.

“We will work with sea lions, sea birds, plankton, seaweed, sea turtles and coral,” Espinoza said.

For tourists who plan to travel to Galápagos later this year and in early 2016, Espinoza has this advice:  “Bring light clothing, insect repellent and articles for rain.”  He added that in regards to the inhabitants of Galápagos, it is necessary to “promote an awareness of care to species that could be affected by El Niño.

Because South American fishermen originally observed the unusual weather pattern around Christmastime, El Niño gets its name from the Christ Child.

Some climatologists fear that global warming will lead to more frequent El Niño years, increasing the dangers to the wildlife of Galápagos.

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Former Galápagos Park Director Says His Ouster Was “Political” /2015/04/11/former-galapagos-park-director-says-his-ouster-was-political/ /2015/04/11/former-galapagos-park-director-says-his-ouster-was-political/#comments Sat, 11 Apr 2015 17:32:29 +0000 /?p=1455 Arturo Izurieta, former Director of the Galápagos National  Park (2014 photo)

George Lewis / Galápagos Digital

Arturo Izurieta, former Director of the Galápagos National Park (2014 photo)

The former Director of the Galápagos National Park, Arturo Izurieta, is not going quietly. In a posting on his Facebook page Saturday (April 11) he says his ouster was a “political decision.”  He did not elaborate on what political factors led to the choice of a new Park Director.

“Though I respect it,” Izurieta wrote, “I do not necessarily agree with it.  However, I leave with the satisfaction of having straightened and improved many internal processes at the Park Service, and having improved transparency and relations with the community.”

Alejandra Ordoñez, new director of the Galápagos National Park

Ecuador Ministry of the Environment

Alejandra Ordoñez, new director of the Galápagos National Park

On Friday, the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment announced that Izurieta had been replaced by Alejandra Ordoñez, who had previously served as provincial director for the Ministry of Tourism and director of Public Use of the Galápagos National Park, focusing on improving conditions for tourists.  Ordoñez is said to be a friend of Environment Minister Lorena Tapia.

Izurieta, a biologist,  had been in the job for only a year and 8 months.   “When I came here,” he wrote,  “I found a very well trained Park staff, both men and women, in the field, and in the office, who work hard in the four inhabited islands and remote places of our beautiful and unique islands.”

And while Ordoñez has a background in tourism and might be considered friendly to the industry, at least one tour operator publicly criticized the abrupt change of park management.  On its website, CNH Tours wrote: “CNH Tours is a bit concerned over this development – as we have heard no reason why Arturo would be asked to step down after only 20 months in office.”

The site noted:  “The Park Director job has in the past been a highly political one – and for a period between 2004 and 2007, 14 directors and interim-directors were cycled through the job, as local and national politicians sought to have their ‘man’ in the job (though after this chaotic period, it was a woman who was given the job).”

Some observers offered a positive assessment of Ordoñez.  “At least Ms. Ordoñez knows Galapagos,” said one scientist who didn’t want to be identified, “and we expect there will not be a big change in direction.”

Another longtime Galapagueño who also didn’t want to be named said: “Ordoñez is very bright and has a good relationship with the Minister to whom she was an advisor.”

The Park Director reports directly to the Minister and some of Izurieta’s friends on Facebook complained the appointment of Ordoñez to replace Izurieta was a case of political cronyism.

“I can never accept such absurd policies,” wrote one supporter.

“Arturo, it’s a shame for protected areas to lose somebody like you,” wrote another.

And this post: “Too bad for Galápagos.”

Galápagos Digital has been trying to contact the Ministry of the Environment as well as the former and new Park Directors for comment but there has been no response so far.  This story will be updated when developments warrant.

In his note, Izurieta urged Galapagueños to carry on without him: “I ask all of you to continue to do everything within your power to make sure our islands and protected areas remain a world example,” he wrote.  “Thanks again.”

 

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New Galápagos National Park Director Named /2015/04/10/new-galapagos-national-park-director-named/ /2015/04/10/new-galapagos-national-park-director-named/#respond Sat, 11 Apr 2015 00:54:17 +0000 /?p=1449 Alejandra Ordoñez, new director of the Galápagos National Park

Ecuador Ministry of the Environment

Alejandra Ordoñez, new director of the Galápagos National Park

The Ecuadorian Environment Ministry announced Friday (April 10) that Alejandra Ordoñez has been appointed the director of the Galápagos National Park.  She replaces Arturo Izurieta, who had held the post since September of 2013.

Ordonñez has a Master’s degree in public management, sustainability and competitiveness of tourism from the International University of Andalucia in Huelva, Spain.  She previously served as provincial director for the Ministry of Tourism and director of Public Use of the Galápagos National Park, focusing on improving conditions for tourists.

In the city of Cuenca on the mainland of Ecuador, she was coordinator of the Tourism Research Department of the Central University of Cuenca, and also served as a professor of masters in tourism and sustainable development.

Ordoñez becomes the second woman to assume the job of Park Director.

 

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Darwin Foundation’s new Mangrove Finch Video /2014/09/23/darwin-foundations-new-mangrove-finch-video/ /2014/09/23/darwin-foundations-new-mangrove-finch-video/#respond Tue, 23 Sep 2014 22:27:16 +0000 /?p=1269 The Charles Darwin Foundation has posted a new video documenting the work to save Mangrove Finches on Isabela Island from extinction.  Thanks to those efforts, the population of Mangrove Finches has increased from 60 to 75.

The Mangrove Finch is one of 14 species of “Darwin’s Finches” that only live in Galapagos. Classed as “Critically Endangered” on the International Union for the Conservation of nature Red List of Threatened Species, less than 80 Mangrove Finches remain in the entire archipelago.

The project is a joint effort of the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment through the Galapagos National Park Directorate, in collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global.

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Galápagos Roadkill: Birds Threatened /2013/06/09/galapagos-roadkill-birds-threatened/ /2013/06/09/galapagos-roadkill-birds-threatened/#comments Sun, 09 Jun 2013 18:12:13 +0000 /?p=529 Yellow warblers killed on the Baltra ferry road.

Godfrey Merlen

Yellow warblers killed on the Santa Cruz Highway.

There are more than eighty feathery lumps laid out on a cloth–the bodies of yellow warblers killed in just one day by vehicles on the Santa Cruz Highway connecting the Baltra ferry landing to the city of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Galápagos roadkill.

“This has been going on for a long time,” said Godfrey Merlen, a British biologist who’s lived in Galápagos for four decades. He and an assistant recently spent a day hiking and bicycling along the road, collecting the dead birds.

The Galápagos National Park estimates that 50-60 birds are killed in an average day, a number that would add up to between 18,000 and 22,000 dead birds in the course of a year.  Park officials say the problem is caused mainly by taxis speeding along the road, trying to cram in as many lucrative runs to the ferry dock as possible.  They say the speed limit, 70 kilometers per hour (43 MPH), is widely ignored.

It’s ironic that Galápagos wildlife, the very magnet that brings the tourists, is being slaughtered by the taxi drivers who depend on the tourist dollars for their livelihood.

The organization WildAid and the park have equipped the Santa Cruz police with radar guns to catch speeders but, according to park officials, the police have been reluctant to use the equipment, citing personnel cutbacks and malfunctions of the radar guns as excuses.

birdsign

George Lewis/Galápagos Digital

Sign urging drivers to slow down, save birds

Now, the park has launched a public awareness program, using billboards along the road and a weekly radio broadcast to try to reduce the carnage, urging taxi drivers to slow down and drive within the speed limit.

“I try to observe the speed limit,” said one Puerto Ayora taxi driver, “but sometimes the birds just fly out of nowhere and hit the vehicle. I am no saint but I am more careful than other drivers who come from the mainland and don’t know about our environment.”

Lucho

Luis Moreno

Luis "Lucho" Moreno holding dead yellow warbler

“There is a lack of will,” said Luis “Lucho” Moreno, the owner of a Puerto Ayora pharmacy, “The National Park must pressure the police to act.” Moreno, who began noticing the bodies of yellow warblers six years ago when he was riding his motorbike on the highway, was first to raise alarms about the dead birds, peppering public officials with complaints.

“We are all guilty,” he said, “not just the drivers, all of us, because we do not value what we have in Galápagos–beautiful nature.”

storefront
The front of Luis Moreno’s pharmacy in Puerto Ayora

Moreno commissioned the painting of a mural on the front of his drugstore featuring birds and the slogan “keep me flying” written in English. Moreno says he would like all the Galápagos authorities and even President Rafael Correa to join him in the effort to save the birds.

A friend of his, Galápagos park guide Marlon Véliz, has written a poignant children’s story about the plight of the birds, called “The Monsters of the Highway.”

In it, a little bird named Miguelito wonders what has become of his mother:

“My mommy went to look for food but now I don’t see her coming home.  My little brothers and sisters are crying and I can’t help them because I don’t know how to fly.

“Monster of the highway, I ask just one thing and nothing more. If you see my mother, who is yellow like the sun and is very beautiful, more beautiful when you hear her sing…if she comes your way, please don’t kill her. Just tell her you’re passing by, that my little brothers and sisters are crying a lot, that we’re hungry and we just want to hug her.”

But, in the end, it’s up to the adults to protect the yellow warblers and the other birds of Galápagos. Godfrey Merlen would like the Ministry of Tourism to take up the campaign:

“It is out of context to promote tourism and at the same time kill the resource that  encourages tourism,” he said, adding that everyone who lives in Galápagos lives through the natural resources and that maintaining those resources should be given top priority.

“Killing birds on the road,” he said, “is disrespectful of these aims and assuredly unnecessary.”

In the meantime, visitors to Galápagos can do their part.  If you’re riding in one of the taxis that uses the Santa Cruz Highway and you see your driver going faster than the 70 kph speed limit, you can say:  “más despacio, por favor“–“Slower, please,” and “Cuidado con los pajaritos”–“Be careful with the little birds.”

 

 

 

 

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Tale of the Lobster (continued): Celebrity Cancels June 9 Galápagos Cruise /2013/06/05/tale-of-the-lobster-continued-celebrity-cancels-june-9-galapagos-cruise/ /2013/06/05/tale-of-the-lobster-continued-celebrity-cancels-june-9-galapagos-cruise/#respond Wed, 05 Jun 2013 14:52:12 +0000 /?p=522 Cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition (photo: Galapagos National Park)

Galapagos National Park

Cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition (photo: Galapagos National Park)

Celebrity Cruises in Miami has announced that because the Galápagos National Park has suspended the license of its 96 passenger vessel Celebrity Xpedition to sail in the islands, it is cancelling the June 9th cruise.

“We are in the process of contacting guests on the June 9 sailing to let them know,” said Cynthia Martinez, spokesperson for the cruise line.

The Celebrity Xpedition has had its license to operate in the islands suspended for 45 days after the Galápagos National Park accused the ship’s operators of carrying out-of-season lobster tails.

The story got international attention after Celebrity Cruises canceled the June 2nd trip to Galápagos. In a statement, the company said:

“We will provide all guests with a full refund of the monies paid for their June 2 sailing of Celebrity Xpedition. We will also provide them with a 50% future cruise credit for another Celebrity Xpedition cruise. The credit is based on the amount they paid for your June 2 cruise and may be used for a future cruise on Celebrity Xpedition within the next two years. Future cruise certificates will be mailed to guest’s home address or travel agent within two to three weeks.”

Saying that it was “truly sorry for this unexpected impact on our guests’ vacation,” Celebrity also promised to refund airline fares purchased through the cruise company for air travel to Galápagos.

As for the lobster in question, Celebrity claims it was bought legally.

“It was purchased in the Galapagos from authorized sellers during the lobster season. We have all the paperwork to prove that. The issue was that we were in possession of frozen lobster tails out of season,”  Cynthia Martinez told USA TODAY.

Rosa León, a spokesperson for the Galápagos National Park told galapagosdigital.com that even if lobster is purchased during the legal season, it can be transported and stored only for five days after the season closes. She said this regulation is to ensure that no out-of-season lobster is carried aboard cruise ships.

But in court, the cruise line contended that the ship was inspected in March and that the park didn’t publish the latest regulations about out-of-season lobster until April. The retroactive application of the regulation now, the company argued, was unfair. The dispute continues to play out in the Ecuadorian court system.

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Tale of the Lobster: Celebrity Cruises Gets Pinched /2013/06/03/tale-of-the-lobster-celebrity-cruises-gets-pinched/ /2013/06/03/tale-of-the-lobster-celebrity-cruises-gets-pinched/#comments Mon, 03 Jun 2013 17:39:32 +0000 /?p=507
Cel_XP_landing_960X312
Celebrity Xpedition cruise ship (celebritycruises.com)

To every thing, there is a season.  And in Galápagos, there is a season for catching lobster.  Now, the 96-passenger cruise ship Celebrity Xpedition has had its license to operate in the islands suspended for 45 days because the Galápagos National Park said the ship was carrying out-of-season lobster tails.

Passengers who had booked travel on the June 2nd cruise got a rude surprise when they were told by the company that their trip had been canceled.  In a statement, Celebrity Cruises said:

“We will provide all guests with a full refund of the monies paid for their June 2 sailing of Celebrity Xpedition. We will also provide them with a 50% future cruise credit for another Celebrity Xpedition cruise. The credit is based on the amount they paid for your June 2 cruise and may be used for a future cruise on Celebrity Xpedition within the next two years. Future cruise certificates will be mailed to guest’s home address or travel agent within two to three weeks.”

Saying that it was “truly sorry for this unexpected impact on our guests’ vacation,” Celebrity also promised to refund airline fares purchased through the cruise company for air travel to Galápagos.

As for the lobster in question, Celebrity claims it was bought legally.

“It was purchased in the Galapagos from authorized sellers during the lobster season. We have all the paperwork to prove that. The issue was that we were in possession of frozen lobster tails out of season,” spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez tells USA TODAY.

Rosa León, a spokesperson for the Galápagos National Park told galapagosdigital.com that even if lobster is purchased during the legal season, it can be transported and stored only for five days after the season closes.  She said this regulation is to ensure that no out-of-season lobster is carried aboard cruise ships.

According to the blog cruiseindustrynews.com, the company is appealing the decision through the Ecuadorian court system.  In the meantime, the 296-foot long ship remains at anchor in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos.

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Video: Two Brave Turtles in “Shark Alley.” /2013/05/17/video-two-brave-turtles-in-shark-alley/ /2013/05/17/video-two-brave-turtles-in-shark-alley/#respond Sat, 18 May 2013 03:28:48 +0000 /?p=463 One of the favorite tourist spots on Isabela Island is “Las Tintoreras,” a small group of islands off of the town of Puerto Villamil. Small sea channels here are known as “shark alley,” so named because sharks tend to congregate there and pose for photographers.  The people at Galakiwi tours recently posted some interesting YouTube video of a couple of nonchalant sea turtles swimming right past a whole school of sharks there.

The title of the video, “Turtle Love in Shark Alley” suggests the turtles are mating although we’re going to have to consult a couple of experts about that.

 

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Shark Attack called “Isolated Incident” /2013/05/15/shark-attack-were-gonna-need-a-bigger-surfboard/ /2013/05/15/shark-attack-were-gonna-need-a-bigger-surfboard/#respond Wed, 15 May 2013 19:52:19 +0000 /?p=435
surfing galapagos
Surfing on Tortuga Bay in Galápagos (courtesy andes.info.ec)

UPDATED FRIDAY MAY 17: Edwin Naula, director of The Galápagos National Park told the Ecuadorian newspaper El Universo that a shark attack on a surfer Tuesday was what he called “an isolated incident.”  Such attacks, he said, are relatively rare although not unheard of in the Galápagos waters.

The attack occurred  in the waters off Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz Island.   Naula said that on rare occasions, sharks turn agressive when they mistake humans for sea lions. The park directorate said it had started monitoring sharks in the marine reserve there to forestall further attacks.

The surfer, 29-year-old Diego Intriago, suffered a  16 inch long bite on the calf of his left leg that caused him considerable injury although it was not life-threatening, said the report from the park.

The surfer was on the crowded beach of Tortuga Bay, accompanied by three others, who helped him out of the water. A doctor who visited the site and a ranger on duty gave him first aid. Intriago was then transported by boat to a hospital in Puerto Ayora, according to officials.

“This is a relatively large surface wound in the left leg, but that does not represent a commitment of tendon or muscle,” said Dr. Karla Vásconez, director of the hospital.

Danny Rueda, of the Galapagos National Park, told El Universo that experts estimated the shark was about six feet in length.  The estimate was made, Rueda said, by carefully studying the size of the wound on Intriago’s leg.

Other surfers said this was the first time they had heard of a shark attack here. The last reported shark attack in Galápagos was on the island of Isabela in 2009. Technicians from the Galápagos National park hope to determine the species of shark responsible for this attack.

The El Universo story in Spanish is linked here.

(Check out the newspaper artist’s conception of the shark attack.)

 

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