Galapagos, Galapagos Islands, news, 2017, awards, Darwin’s finches, evolution, giant tortoise, extinction, breeding, Lonesome George, sharks, illegal fishing

2017 Galapagos News Roundup

This has been a busy year in the Galapagos Islands, with prestigious tourism awards, new discoveries – and challenges.

 

Award-Winning Galapagos

Throughout 2017, the Galapagos Islands racked up several important tourism awards. It landed in the Best Islands category of Travel + Leisure magazine’s World’s Best Awards thanks to the islands’ incredible snorkeling and close animal encounters. Travelers desiring to explore the Galapagos’ undersea world should take note that National Geographic placed Cousin’s Rock on its list of the World’s Greatest Scuba Diving Spots.

In December, the World Travel Awards, also known as the “Tourism Oscars,” declared the Galapagos as the World’s Best Beach Destination. And what is the best of these beaches, according to TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards for 2017? That would be Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island, which was chosen among the Top 25 Beaches in the world.

 

Evolution in Real Time: A New Species of Darwin’s Finch

The Galapagos Islands are famous for its role in the development of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. This year provided not only further proof supporting this theory – but also the revelation that evolution can occur within a few generations.

For decades, scientists Rosemary and Peter Grant have studied Darwin’s finches on Daphne Mayor Island. In 1981, they noticed the arrival of a male large cactus finch from Española Island, 100 kilometers (60 miles) to the south. This strange-singing bird captured the fancy of a local female medium ground finch, and they produced fertile offspring. Three Darwin finch generations later, DNA testing shows they are genetically different than any other Darwin finch population.

 

Bringing the Floreana Giant Tortoise Back to Life

Genetic testing is giving Galapagos scientists many other new insights on the islands’ unique species, including the survival of species once thought to be extinct. Such is the case of the Floreana giant tortoise, thought to be forever gone since the 1830s. DNA testing showed that some tortoises on Isabela Island’s Wolf Volcano were hybrids of the Floreana and the local giant tortoise species. In 2017, a new breeding program began at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center on Santa Cruz Island, to revive the Floreana tortoise and the first eggs have now hatched.

 

A Homecoming for an Extinct Galapagos Species

The same giant tortoise DNA testing program has failed to find any hybrids of the Pinta Island species. The last known member of this species, iconic Lonesome George, died in 2012, marking the official extinction of this giant tortoise species.

After careful preservation, Lonesome George returned to the Galapagos Islands in February 2017. His special, climate-controlled gallery is part of the new Giant Tortoise route at the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center.

 

Sharks in the Galapagos, part 1

Thanks to the work of several shark conservation programs, we have uncovered more fascinating information about these masters of the sea in the Galapagos Islands.  Shark monitoring led to the discovery of a scalloped hammerhead shark breeding site and nursery in the Galapagos.

Galapagos Whale Shark Project (GWSP), a project supported by the Galapagos National Park and several international agencies like the Charles Darwin Foundation, found that a high number of pregnant whale sharks pass through the archipelago, especially in the sector of the special shark reserve declared in 2016. This year, scientists successfully conducted ultrasounds on these females.

 

Sharks in the Galapagos, part 2

Not all of the news about sharks in the Galapagos was so inspiring. In August 2017, the Chinese ship Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 was intercepted in the Galapagos Marine Reserve with 6,600 near-extinct and endangered sharks aboard. The 20-man crew was tried and sentenced to up to four years in prison each member and ordered to pay a US$5.9 million fine.

 

2017 has been a banner year in understanding and conserving the Galapagos Islands’ many incomparable species. It has also been a year of many accolades and challenges for one of the world’s most pristine nature reserves.

 

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Photo credit: Thomas Bonnin

Galapagos Islands, giant tortoise, extinction, Floreana, breeding

Galapagos Tortoise Species Back from Extinction

How do you bring an extinct species back to life? Use DNA testing to reveal it hidden in plain sight.

During a 2002 expedition to Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island, scientists took note of the saddleback tortoises living side-by-side with tortoises with dome-shaped shells. The results of DNA testing inspired the researchers to return to the field in 2008. Analysis of the more than 1,600 blood samples taken proved two species existed – and further testing showed that DNA of 80 of the saddlebacks matched that of museum samples of the long-extinct Floreana tortoise (Chelonoidis elephantopus, formerly Chelonoidis nigra).

In 2015, scientists undertook another expedition to Wolf Volcano to continue testing the tortoises, and to capture 32 specimens (13 males and 19 females) with likely high Floreana (and possibly Pinta) genetic material.

Extinction of the Floreana Giant Tortoise

When Charles Darwin visited Floreana Island in the Galapagos in 1835, he wrote in his field notes that the giant tortoises on that island were scarce. By 1846, according to a report by naturalist Berthold Seeman, this species of tortoise was extinct.

The extinction of the Floreana giant tortoise, along with three other species, was driven by the overhunting of this reptile by whalers who were active in the archipelago during the first half of the 19th century. The tortoises, which could be kept alive in ship holds for long periods of time, provided necessary fresh meat for crews.

But how did giant tortoises from Floreana Island end up on Isabela, more than 175 kilometers (110 miles) away as the waved albatross flies?

Scientists speculate that whalers and other mariners had dropped off some 40 Floreana tortoises at Banks Bay (Bahía Bancos) on the far northwest corner of Isabela Island, at the foot of Wolf Volcano. This bay was the last opportunity for sailors to lighten their loads before heading westward across the wide Pacific Ocean. Over the following two centuries, these gentle giants formed a colony, interbreeding with the volcano’s native species.

The Start of a New Galapagos Tortoise Breeding Program

Of the 32 giant tortoises captured during the 2015 expedition, about half proved to have high levels of Floreana genetic material. Unfortunately, traces of Pinta giant tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdonii) DNA did not appear. It seems that the species to which Lonesome George belonged may, indeed, be extinct.

The new breeding program, the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI), is being conducted by the Galapagos National Park in collaboration with the Galapagos Conservancy at the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island.

Nine males and 14 females Floreana hybrid tortoise have been chosen for this program. Four breeding groups – composed of three females and two males each – will begin their journey in repopulating their ancestors’ home island.

In five years, the first hatchlings will be released on Floreana, to begin the process of repopulating that island with its own species of giant tortoise. Of course, never will the tortoises there be 100 percent pure Chelonoidis elephantopus, a fact Linda Cayot of the Galapagos Conservancy recognizes. “But we will have a tortoise population with many of the same genes as the original,” she stated. After 25 years, these tortoises will be of breeding age.

In the meantime, a project is underway on Floreana to restore the island’s ecosystem. This includes eliminating invasive flora and fauna – especially rats – that would keep the reintroduced tortoises from reproducing and thriving.

Details of this new breeding program were published in the September 13, 2017 issue of Nature’s “Scientific Reports.”

Galapagos National Park, along with the Charles Darwin Research Center and other institutions, has had great success in bringing back species from the brink of extinction. With only 15 individuals, the Española species of giant tortoise was revived with about 2,000 hatchlings being born and repatriated to that island. Another success story is that of the Baltra land iguana, whose population had been relocated to North Seymour Island in the 1930s due to threats of extinction by introduced species.

Visiting the Galapagos Tortoise Breeding Program

You’ll be able to see the stars of the Floreana tortoise breeding program in one of the corrals on the newly renovated Ruta de la Tortuga or Tortoise Route at the Fausto Llerena Breeding Center outside Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. The bilingual displays examine evolution in the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin, breeding giant tortoises in captivity and the environmental importance of giant tortoises. The last stop of the route is the Symbol of Hope Salon featuring Lonesome George, the last known Pinta Island tortoise.

The Ruta de la Tortuga is open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is included on the itinerary of many Galapagos cruises.

 

With the anticipated success of the Floreana giant tortoise breeding program, in the future you may see these gentle giants once again on that island.

 

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Photo credit: Parque Nacional Galápagos

Volcanic eruption, Fernandina island, Galapagos, September 2017

Volcanic Eruptions: Galapagos Islands’ Natural Fireworks

Occasionally the Galapagos Islands remind us that it is a young volcanic archipelago. The mounts on Isabela and Fernandina erupt into short-term activity, giving visitors to the Galapagos a natural fireworks show.

Why the Galapagos Islands Have So Many Volcanoes

The Earth’s crust is made up of several dozen, slowly drifting plates. When one plate is forced beneath another – such as the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate – volcanoes like those in the Andes are formed.

Another way volcanoes are created is when a plate drifts over a hot spot, a place where the Earth’s molten innards burns through the crust above. As the plate moves over this stationary hot plume, it forms a string of volcanoes which grow into islands and become archipelagos, like the Hawai’ian Islands. Volcanoes on the older isles become extinct.

This is precisely how the Galapagos Islands are formed. They sit atop the Nazca Plate, which is drifting at a giant tortoise pace to the southeast. San Cristobal, the easternmost island, is approximately four million years old. Fernandina and Isabela, the westernmost main islands, are merely some 700,000 years old and thus still active.

Fernandina Island

On September 4th, Cumbre Volcano on Fernandina Island erupted for the first time in almost a decade. Two days earlier, a 4.6 earthquake between Fernandina and Isabela islands hinted that something was afoot. The quakes continued, growing more frequent, until on the afternoon of September 4th, the volcano erupted. The tour ship National Geographic Endeavour II happened to record that moment when Cumbre began emitting gas and steam. Lava is flowing from a fissure on Cumbre Volcano’s south-southwest side. Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute reports the volcanic activity is lessening. There are no human residents on Fernandina; however, wildlife is possibly threatened.

In modern times, Fernandina’s volcano has often been observed erupting. The activity occurs every few years, with notable flare-ups in 1988, 1991, and 1995. An eruption in 1968 caused the caldera to collapse, sending an ash cloud drifting to Isla Santa Cruz and beyond.

A gripping event was recorded in 1825 by Captain Benjamin Morrell. Right at the moment the island began spewing forth lava, his ship was becalmed in the Bolívar Channel between Fernandina and Isabela. Luckily, just in the nick of time, a slight breeze enabled him to sail to safety.

Isabela Island

Isabela is the Galapagos’ largest island and one of the most active geologically. It is composed of six volcanoes connected by lava flows. At the southwestern corner of the island is Cerro Azul, which last erupted in 2008. To the northeast is Sierra Negra (last eruption, 2005). Going northward is Alcedo (1993), Darwin (1813) and Wolf (2015). The “mouth” of this seahorse-shaped island is where the partially collapsed Volcán Ecuador is located (last eruption, 1150 CE).

Isabela’s activity has frequently been documented by pirates, whalers and scientific expeditions cruising through the Galapagos Islands. A fascinating account is told by scientist William Beebe in his 1926 book, The Arcturus Adventure.

You can check out Sierra Negra on a day tour from Puerto Villamil. At the volcano, which has one of the largest active craters in the world, old lava flows streak the lunar-like landscape.

Where Else You Might See Erupting Galapagos Islands

It is unlikely you’ll see islands in other parts of the Galapagos archipelago providing a fireworks show, though there is a remote possibility. Many of the eastern and central islands are millions of years older than the western ones, and their volcanoes long extinct.

According to the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program, it has been thousands of years since San Cristobal, Santa Cruz and Genovesa islands last saw volcanic activity. The islands further west tell a different story.

In recorded history, the last eruption on Floreana Island occurred in 1813, an event recorded by Captain David Porter of the USS Essex. Volcanic eruptions have occurred more recently on Santiago (1906), Pinta (1928) and Marchena (1991).

Effects of Volcanic Eruptions on Galapagos Wildlife

Although most of Galapagos’ volcanic eruptions in the last century have occurred on islands with no human population or far from towns and settlements, they still pose a danger to the archipelago’s unique wildlife. In the past, Galapagos fauna has faced a mixed bag of fortune.

With the May 2015 eruption of Volcán Wolf on Isabela Island, scientists were concerned the populations of giant tortoises and pink iguanas that inhabit the north and west slopes of the volcano might be endangered. Luckily, the ash and lava flowed to the east and southeast.

The local species of Fernandina giant tortoise was most likely decimated by volcanic eruption within the last 100 years. The effects of Cumbre Volcano’s 2017 activity on Fernandina wildlife will not be known until scientists can arrive there to survey the damage.

Effects of Volcanic Eruptions on Your Galapagos Cruise

The Galapagos Islands’ volcanoes are closely monitored by the national park, Ecuador’s Geophysical Institute and international agencies. Before an eruption, seismic (earthquake) activity increases, indicating that magma within the mount is moving.

Your itinerary may be affected by these periodic volcanic eruptions. If it includes a landing near the presently active volcano, that excursion may be cancelled due to safety concerns but your cruise will continue as normal. Punta Espinosa, on the northeast coast of Fernandina, is the only visitor site on that island. Some sites along Isabela’s coasts, like Black Turtle Point and Caleta Tagus at the foot of Volcán Darwin, are shadowed by volcanoes.

 

You can expect the unexpected while in the enchanting Galapagos Islands – and one of those things just may be a volcanic eruption, a mesmerizing natural fireworks display.

 

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Photo credit: via Twitter

Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, entry requirements, tourists, medical insurance

New Ecuador Entry Requirement

When packing for your Galapagos adventure, there is one more thing you’ll need to be sure to bring along: proof of medical insurance that will be valid in Ecuador.

Ecuador’s new immigration laws, which also affect tourists, require that all who come to this Andean country must show proof of medical insurance. The new regulations were passed by the National Assembly in February, and signed by Ecuador’s President Lenín Moreno at the beginning of August. On August 14, the Tourism Ministry announced the recent requirements.

According to the new law, all visitors must show proof of integral health insurance which covers doctor, accident and death during their stay in Ecuador and that will be valid in Ecuador.

Check your present medical insurance coverage to ensure you are covered overseas. But note that whatever medical insurance you have at home usually will NOT cover medical expenses, including medical evacuation, in a foreign country. Therefore, it will be necessary for you to purchase a travel insurance policy. With these, confirm that all activities that you plan to do, like scuba diving, are included.

Remember also that other new regulations require that visitors to the Galapagos Islands must have proof of cruise or hotel reservations for the duration of their stay in the archipelago.

For travelers from many countries, no visa is required to enter Ecuador for a stay of up to 90 days within a 365-day period. Citizens of UNASUR member nations (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela) may stay 180 days in one year. Only those from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cuba, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenia, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Senegal require a visa before arriving in Ecuador.

By making certain you have the proper documents, you will make your journey to Ecuador more pleasant and trouble-free.

 

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Photo credit: Vince Smith

Frigate Birds, Galapagos Islands

New Galapagos Entry Requirements

The Galapagos Islands government has issued new entry regulations for both foreign and national tourists. These new requirements went into effect on June 5, 2017.

Visitors to the Galapagos Islands will now need to show the following when obtaining their tourist card at the Gobierno Especial del Régimen de Galápagos counters at the Quito and Guayaquil airports:

  • Round trip air fare.
  • Hotel and/or cruise reservation for the days they will be in the Galapagos Islands, from the time of arrival to departure from the islands.
  • If the tourist will be staying in the home of a Galapagos resident, a letter of invitation from the resident.

Once these documents have been presented, then the tourist can obtain the Galapagos tourist card which still costs $20US and is paid in cash.

An on-line registration form, which will save visitors time, is in the works. Check with your tour operator to see if you will have to supply this information, or if the tour agency will provide this service to their customers. Independent travelers should have copies of their air tickets and reservations printed off.

It is important that, before departing from the mainland, do-it-alone travelers make all hotel reservations on all the habitable islands where they will be spending the night. These include Santa Cruz, San Cristobal, Isabela and Floreana islands.

Have you travelled to Galapagos since the new regulations came into effect? Share your experience with other travellers in the comments below.

 

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Photo credit: Sophie Robson

Lonesome George, Galapagos Islands

Welcome Home, Lonesome George!

Lonesome George – THE symbol of the Galapagos and the threat of extinction – has finally returned to the Islands. He arrived 17 February, and his new home was opened to the public on 23 February.

His homecoming included the inauguration of his new climate-control “apartment,” the Symbol of Hope Salon, and the new Giant Tortoise Route at the Galapagos National Park headquarters and Charles Darwin Research Station at Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.

Lonesome George was also given the title Cultural National Heritage by Ecuador’s Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Lonesome George: The Galapagos Icon

In 1972, Lonesome George (called Solitario Jorge in Ecuador) was discovered on Pinta Island and brought to the breeding center on Santa Cruz Island where he spent the next 40 years. He became a symbol of the fight against species extinction.

Despite repeated searches of Pinta Island and in zoos around the globe, no female Pinta Island tortoise was ever found. With the advent of genetic testing, scientists discovered that tortoises from Wolf Volcano on Isabela Island were close relatives. Several times, the females laid eggs — but all proved to be infertile. Later, two females from the Española Island, a species even more closely related, were placed with him. Again, no offspring were produced.

Lonesome George, the last pure-bred Pinta Island giant tortoise, died on June 24, 2012 without heirs. He was approximately 90 years old.

After his death, his body was taken to the United States, where with the assistance of the Galapagos Conservancy and taxidermy experts at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, his body was painstakingly preserved.

After two years of work, Lonesome George was exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History September 2014-January 2015. In the meantime, the Galapagos National Park along with The Galapagos Conservancy and other agencies worked to build his new home with state-of-the-art climate control to ensure his preservation for many generations to come.

A New Route Awaits You

When visiting the Charles Darwin Research Station, tours now stop in at Lonesome George’s new show case, the Symbol of Hope Salon (Sala Símbolo de Esperanza). It is the last stop on the new Tortoise Route (Ruta de la Tortuga) that begins at the renovated Fausto Llerena Breeding Center on Santa Cruz Island.

The Tortoise Route is a series of boardwalks leading to areas with different themes: Everything Changes (Todo Cambia, which examines evolution in the Galapagos Islands), Curious Traveler (Viajero Curioso, about Charles Darwin), New Travelers (Nuevas Viajeras, about breeding giant tortoises in captivity) and Giant Tortoises (Tortugas Gigantes, the environmental importance of giant tortoises, their threatened extinction, and the restoration of ecosystems in the Galapagos Islands). All displays are bilingual.

If you are traveling on your own to the Galapagos Islands, the Ruta de la Tortuga and Lonesome George’s new gallery are open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The Future of the Breeding Program

The ecological niche that giant tortoises occupy is extremely important to the environmental health of the Galapagos Islands. To restore the four islands where tortoises are now extinct (Fernandina – due to volcanic eruption; and Pinta, Floreana and Santa Fe, due to humans) is a seemingly impossible goal.

However, a new project is one step to making this dream a reality. Geneticists have discovered that tortoise populations on Wolf Volcano (Isabela) are a genetic mix of the now-extinct species of Floreana and Pinta islands. Specimens have been gathered, and will be bred to repopulate these isles.

Perhaps in the future your tour to these islands will feature the sighting of giant tortoises.

 

To learn more about the preservation of Lonesome George and the future breeding programs, watch the fascinating documentary, Preserving Lonesome George.

 

 

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Photo credit: A. Davey

Volcan Chico, Isabela island, Galapagos

New Galapagos Wonders Discovered

Several new geological discoveries in the Galapagos Islands are rocking the imaginations of scientists – and travelers: a crystallized lava lagoon and lava trees.

These two fascinating and unique features, found at Cerro Chico on Isabela Island, were announced in May by Dr. Theofilos Toulkeridis, a geologist at the Army Polytechnic University (Escuela Politécnica del Ejército – ESPE), who has made over 50 research trips to the Galapagos Islands.

The lava lagoon, which measures 25-30 meters (82-99 feet) in diameter, has crystallized waves washing across its surface. Hikers to the volcano can see it from an observation point five meters (16 feet) away.

The second discovery is of lava trees. A forest of 30 trees were burnt and petrified by erupting lava, leaving behind deep holes. These trees may possibly be of a now-extinct Galapagos species. It is an extremely rare phenomenon, found only in Hawai’i’s Volcano National Park and Mount Fuji, Japan – and a lone cactus on Genovesa Island in the Galapagos Islands (this site is closed to the public). The Cerro Chico lava tree site will be opened to Galapagos visitors from May 2016.

Cerro Chico is part of the massive Sierra Negra Volcano just 22 kilometers (14 miles) northwest of Puerto Villamil on Isabela Island. Sierra Negra last erupted in 2005. It is a popular guided day hike on that island.

What do you think of these new discoveries? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
 

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Photo credit: Steve Nomchong

Blue-footed Booby mating dance

5 Reasons to Visit Galapagos Now!

After the 7.8 earthquake that devastated Ecuador’s Pacific Coast on April 16, you may be wondering if it’s a good time to come to this Andean country and its treasured Galapagos Islands.

The reality is that although the mainland coastal provinces of Manabí and southern Esmeraldas were severely affected by the earthquake the Galapagos Islands were unaffected. And as the clean-up continues and the rebuilding of lives and infrastructure begins there are even more reasons to travel to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands now.

Here are five reasons to not postpone your trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands:

  1. Especially at this time of crisis, Ecuador needs visitors more than ever. The national government and local and regional tourism authorities are united in making a call for visitors to come to Ecuador. The tourism dollars will help boost the economy, thus providing the money necessary to rebuild the affected coastal communities. Revenues to government agencies will increase and Galapagos residents will have extra money to assist their family and others who live in the destroyed coastal villages.

  1. In the gateway cities to the Galapagos – Quito and Guayaquil – airports, hotels, restaurants and other services are operating normally. You will be able to arrive to the Enchanted Isles as usual.

  1. The earthquake caused no damage nor disruption to services in the Galapagos Islands. The islands’ airports, hotels, restaurants and cruises continue to operate normally.

  1. The month of May marks the beginning of the garua season in the Galapagos. The weather is becoming cooler, and a light mist bathes the landscapes in the early morning and evening. Still, the skies are clear for much of the day.

  1. May is also a bumper month of breeding and nesting in the Galapagos. Blue-footed Boobies are continuing their mating dance on North Seymour Island. On Genovesa, Great Frigate birds are mating and nesting. The Waved Albatross are beginning to lay their eggs on Española Island. Storm petrels, Flightless Cormorants, Penguins and Greater Flamingoes, and Red-footed Boobies and Masked Boobies are also doing their mating rituals and preparing for their offspring to come.

    The Galapagos Islands’ reptiles are also in on the act. Both marine and land iguanas are nesting, and on Santa Cruz Island, the hatchlings are already emerging. At Punta Cormorant, Puerto Egas and Gardner Bay, green sea turtles are hatching. And in the wild, giant tortoises are laying their eggs.

Considering the additional benefits your travel will make to helping Ecuador recover from the recent earthquake, there is no reason to postpone your dream Galapagos trip. So go ahead and pack your bags, and be ready to be warmly greeted by Ecuador and her people.

 

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Photo credit: Paul Krawczuk

Galapagos residents loading tons of supplies donated for victims of the earthquake on the Pacific coast of the mainland

Galapagos in solidarity with Ecuador’s earthquake victims

Although the Galapagos Islands are far removed from the zone that was affected by the devastating 16 April earthquake, its residents have been gathering aid to send.

Since the early morning hours of 17 April, the communities on the five populated islands (San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Baltra, Floreana and Isabela) have been gathering material aid donations in public parks and institutions. Included in the efforts are the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Naturalist Guides Association, and local tour operators, hotels, churches and schools.

On 19 April, the National Park service shipped donations from Isabela and Floreana islands to Santa Cruz Island. Ecuadorian Air Force planes are delivering the supplies from the airports on San Cristóbal and Baltra (which services Santa Cruz Island) to make it to the continent.  Already over three tons of the island’s aid have been sent to Ecuador’s Pacific coast.

The Galapagos Islands was not affected by the 7.8 earthquake that occurred near Pedernales on the Ecuadorian continent, as the islands are on a separate tectonic plate. The Army’s Oceanic Institute had issued a tsunami advisory, stating that waves were expected to be less than a meter. (After an earthquake of a 7.0 or greater intensity, it is customary to issue a tsunami warning.)

Many Galapagos residents have family members that live in the affected coastal communities on the continent.

You may follow the Galapagans’ solidarity actions at: #‎GalápagosSolidario.

If you also wish to directly assist those affected the Ecuadorian Red Cross is receiving donations in the following account:

Bank: Banco Pichincha

Account number: 3462520104

Account name: Fondo de Emergencia

Beneficiary: Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana – Quito

The funds will be destined to provide temporary shelter for those affected and for continuing search and rescue operations.

 

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Photo credit: @MAGAP_Galapagos

Ecuador earthquake April 16, 2016

Update: Ecuador Earthquake

For up-to-date information check back to this page. If you are concerned about your travel arrangements contact us at reservations@yacuamu.com or call our 24h emergency number +593-9-9680-4041.

 

April 19

Rescue efforts continue to try to locate survivors in the rubble of collapsed buildings in the wake of the April 16 earthquake.

The death toll now stands at 413 with 231 people reported missing across varios cities on the Pacific coast. Pedernales is the worst affected with 147, Portoviejo 112, Manta 105, Canoa 30, Bahía de Caraquez 11 and Rocofuerte 3.

Flights out of Quito and Guayaquil to and from Galapagos continue to operate normally.

See our previous post on how you can help by sending your donation to the Ecuadorian Red Cross.

 

April 18

The official toll from the earthquake now stands at 235 dead and 1,557 injured, announced Vice-President Jorge Glas in a press conference from the city of Manta in the province of Manabí.

A state of emergency has been declared to enable resources to be directed to the search and rescue efforts.

The airports of Quito and Guayaquil on the mainland and those on Baltra, San Cristobal and Islabela islands in the Galapagos are fully operational.

To assist those affected the Ecuadorian Red Cross is receiving donations in the following account:

Bank: Banco Pichincha

Account number: 3462520104

Account name: Fondo de Emergencia

Beneficiary: Cruz Roja Ecuatoriana – Quito

The funds will be destined to provide temporary shelter for those affected and for search and rescue operations.

 

April 17

At 01:25 local time the Vice-President Jorge Glas announced that there are 77 confirmed dead and 588 injured after yesterday’s earthquake that registered 7.8 on the Richter scale. The epicenter of the quake that occurred Saturday April 16 at 18:58 was near the town of Muisne on the Pacific coast. The most affected areas are Portoviejo, Manta, Guayaquil y Pedernales.

The earthquake, the strongest since 1979, was followed by 55 after shocks and more are expected.

For visitors to the Galapagos islands flying from Quito via Guayaquil travel is unaffected. Several roads between Quito and the coast are closed due to landslides.

 

Photo credit: www.bbc.com