GALAPAGOS MARINE RESERVE


Source: Galapagos Conservation Trust


The Galapagos Marine Reserve is one of most biologically diverse marine protected areas in the world. It covers 133,000 square kilometres, surrounding the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 kilometres off Ecuador’s coast. The Galapagos Islands consist of 13 large islands formed 4 million years ago by volcanic processes. The marine reserve is home to a wide range of species: whales, dolphins, albatrosses, sharks, sea lions, penguins, fur seals, rays, cormorants, marine iguanas, sea turtles, and tropical fishes.


Ecuador: 133,000 km sq

The Galapagos Islands have been recognized as a unique ecosystem since Charles Darwin wrote about the islands in his books The Voyage of the Beagle and On the Origin of Species.


Darwin used the finches of the Galapagos to illustrate his theory of natural selection. The endemic and unique native flora and fauna make the Galapagos Islands one of the world’s truly exceptional places.




But one of its most unique species is of course the marine iguana, the only aquatic lizard in the world. The iguanas are about 1-1.5 meters long and live along the shore of the islands. Marine iguanas eat seaweed and other algae found clinging to underwater rocks and tree roots. The lizards dive up to nine meters to graze on algae.



FACTS

  • More than 2,900 existing marine species have been observed of which 18.2 % are endemic.

  • More than 45 endemic bird species, 42 reptile species, 15 mammal species and 79 fish species live in Galapagos

  • In 1959, the government of Ecuador created Galapagos National Park and later the marine protected area (MPA) in 1998. The reserve includes the area within 40 nautical miles from the islands’ coasts, as well as the islands’ inland waters, such as lagoons and streams.

  • The reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognized for its value in conserving and maintaining unique species.



Source: Galapagos Conservation Trust


This year Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso signed a decree creating a massive new marine reserve north of the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific. The new reserve, named "Hermandad" (Brotherhood), expands the protected waters by 60,000 square kilometres to a total of 193,000 square kilometres.


Poaching, or illegal fishing and hunting, is a threat to marine species in the MPA. Tuna and sharks are often overfished. Some of the most overfished animals are lobsters and sea cucumbers. Sea turtles are illegally hunted for their meat. Sea lions are poached for their teeth and genitals, which are used in Asian medicines.



Source: en.unesco.org, education.nationalgeographic.org, dw.com


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