Category Archives: Galapagos

CDF scientists continue to train ABG staff in recognizing marine invasive species in Galapagos

News from the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos

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The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) places significant emphasis on delivering local capacity building courses for partner organizations. Within this context, on July 15th and 16th, CDF held a marine invasive species identification workshop at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island for staff members of the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG in its Spanish acronym).

The principal aim of the CDF Marine invasive project is to minimize the negative impacts of marine invasives on marine biodiversity, ecosystems and on the overall health of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR). The two day workshop was presented by CDF scientists Inti Keith and Priscilla Martinez – the project’s principal investigators.

Inti and Priscilla welcomed 10 ABG technicians and covered in detail the risks and threats of introduced marine species arriving to the GMR. ABG staff studied some of the species that could most likely find their way to the GMR, including an evaluation of possible routes and entry points. It was also an opportunity to analysis the measures currently in place for stopping marine invasives from entering the GMR in the first place.

In addition, the workshop provided an open dialogue for discussing some of the current issues related to maritime traffic in Galapagos and the management of control activities by on-the-ground Galapagos institutions. All ABG technicians were evaluated at the end of the course and received a certificate of attendance.

CDF receives no governmental funding for providing opportunities such as these; however, working with Ecuadorian public institutions and forging links with the community is a fundamental part of our mission in Galapagos.

The project is coordinated alongside the University of Southampton and the Galapagos National Park Directorate. Other local, national and international partners include the Ecuadorian Oceanographic Institute (INOCAR), the National Directorate of Aquatic Spaces (DIRNEA), the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG), the Ecuadorian Navy and University of Dundee, Scotland.

This project is possible thanks to funding support from Darwin Initiative, Galapagos Conservancy and the Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic Fund.

Tug boats arrive to help cargo ship in Galapagos

The cargo boat Galapaface I remains on the rocks in Wreck Bay on the Island of San Cristobal Galapagos. The salvage company is working day and night to try to re float the ship and safely remove it form the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In order for this operation to go ahead 2 tug boats where hired to come form continental Ecuador to the Galapagos Islands that are located about 1000km from the mainland. The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and myself  where called by local authorities, the Galapagos National Park (GNP) and the Biosecurity Agency for Galapagos (ABG) to go and inspect these tug boats. These boats spend a lot of time stationary in places where non native species can attach themselves to the hull of the boat and hitch a lift to the next port of entry. In the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) we are working to protect these species entering the GMR and causing damage to the surrounding ecosystem. A team of 4 divers from all institutions (GNP, ABG, CDF) inspected both tug boats and i have to say where pleasantly surprised. The owners of the boats respected the regulations that have been put in place to protect the GMR from the introduction of alien species. Both boats where examples of how boats should enter the GMR. I will keep you informed on this as it progresses, it looks like it will take a few more weeks to get the boat of the rocks.

On Friday Im going to the southern Islands of Española and Floreana looking for invasive species and doing monitoring of sites i visited last year. I will update you on that trip when i get back

Cheers from sunny galapagos

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Cargo ship runs aground in Galapagos

The cargo ship Galapaface I ran aground in Wreck Bay on the San Cristobal Island, Galapagos, on May 9, with 19,000 gallons of diesel, 1,250 gallons of oil and 300 tons of cargo. The local authorities worked together to make sure that 19,000 gallons of diesel on board ship where taken off as quickly as possible but unfortunately about 46 tanks of lubricating oil in the lower hold of the ship. On Monday, May 19th the salvage company located the contaminating material began the evacuation of the tanks which where luckily still in good condition, which ensures that there is no leakage. In parallel, three divers from the Galapagos National Park (GNP) , the Ministry of Environment and the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), conducted ecological monitoring of the seafloor, in three strategic locations in the affected zone. Scientists myself included established transects and collected data of fish, macroinvertebrates and sessile organisms. The aim is to create a baseline of what is present at the time of the cargo ship running aground and in case of any catastrophe be able to compare the before and after data. Aboard the ship, officials of the GNP and the Biosecurity Agency for Galapagos (ABG) perform the unloading of perishable cargo. The Ecuadorian Navy and the Ministry of the Environment are working in collaboration to insure there are no direct effects on the surrounding environment and the species that inhabit this area, so far no changes have been reported, lets hope it ends well.

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Trip to the west of the archipelago

Hello from Galapagos,

Sorry I have not been in touch for a while, but I’m back with lots of news. During the month of February my supervisors Professor Terry Dawson and Dr Ken Collins came to visit me in the Galapagos Islands. For their arrival I organised a diving trip to the west of the archipelago to search for marine invasive species. The itinerary was to leave the Island of Santa Cruz and travel toward the island of Santiago spend a day diving there and then travel all the way up the coast of Santiago and the east of Isabela Island round the top to Punta Vicente Roca where to our surprise we found orcas and sunfish at one of our dive spots. From this point we travelled to the island of Fernandina, which is the island most west of the archipelago where a huge upwelling occurs. After Fernandina we slowly made our way down Canal Bolivar stopping at different dive spots we have on the way. During the dives we found Caulerpa racemosa var. occidentalis and Asparagopsis taxiformis in a few of the sites. These two types of algae are known to be invasive in other parts of the world and are established in the Galapagos Marine Reserve but do not show an invasive behaviour. At this time there are 6 of these species that are on our watch list. This means we are keeping an eye on them in case they change their behaviour and start affecting the ecosystems because of some change in the environment due to climate variations or physical changes.

This trip was part of the yearly monitoring for marine invasive species around the archipelago. At the end of the trip we stopped off at Puerto Villamil, which is one of the inhabited ports on the island of Isabela, here I presented our findings to the Galapagos National Park and the community. There was a lot of interested and I have been asked to return to the island and give another talk to the schools in the area. In Puerto Villamil we also held meetings with some of the collaborating institution that are the Galapagos NationalPark and the Ecuadorian Navy. The last activity we conducted was theport monitoring around the main passenger docks, cargo docks and navigation buoys.

 More from the Galapagos soon,

Inti

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Galapagos Islands

The New Year brings, new research and with it this great new initiative called CECHR Sphere. My name is Inti and I am excited to share my research and adventures on this site.

 I am a PhD candidate at the University of Dundee in the School of the Environment studying Marine Invasive Species in the Galapagos Marine Reserve. I am based in the Galapagos Islands on the Island of Santa Cruz and in the town of Puerto Ayora where I work in collaboration with the Charles Darwin Research Station. My research looks to minimise the negative impacts of invasive species on marine biodiversity, ecosystem services and the health of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, I will be using geospatial treatments of local and regional marine invasive species distributions and combining them with marine traffic routes that will help me identify hotspots of transmission and propagation within the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the wider Eastern Tropical Pacific. Furthermore the use of oceanographic modelling systems and risk assessment tools will be used to predict possible invasions and assist local stakeholders such as the Galapagos National Park and the Biosecurity Agency with management strategies. In the following months I will be organising field trips around the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the main ports of the islands conducting monitoring surveys looking for marine invasive species. I will update you on my adventures and post my findings.

Wishing you a great day from the Galapagos Islands