This blog is a collaborative effort of GC staff, colleagues, scientists, supporters, and friends. This space will be used to share amazing stories about all things Galapagos and our efforts to conserve these treasured islands.

Galapagos and Beyond: September Roundup

Lonesome George made headlines in September with the opening of the American Museum of Natural History's exhibit in New York. We announced the winners of our 2014 photo contest earlier in the month, which will be featured in the 2015 GC calendar. A fantastic online resource for teachers and students called Discovering Galapagos launched as about these and more in our September roundup!


A Night at the Museum: Lonesome George Exhibit Unveiled

On September 18, 2014, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) hosted a panel discussion moderated by Chief Conservation Scientist Dr. Eleanor Sterling to launch the opening of the long-awaited exhibit for Lonesome George -- the last known tortoise from Pinta Island who died in June 2012. A sold-out audience of 300 listened attentively to the remarks of Galapagos National Park Director Dr. Arturo Izurieta, GC President Johannah Barry, GC Science Advisor Dr. Linda Cayot, and Dr. James Gibbs of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, all of whom knew Lonesome George for years prior to his death.

Following the discussion, attendees got a sneak peek of Lonesome George -- whose body was preserved by expert taxidermists -- prior to the official exhibit opening the following day. It was an emotional night for those who knew Lonesome George in life and because of what his death represented: the role of humankind in species loss, and our responsibility to preserve and protect the fragile world around us. Lonesome George will be on exhibit in New York until January 4, 2015 before being returned to Ecuador. Watch a video from AMNH documenting the process of creating the exhibit, and read more on the story of Lonesome George.

Photos © JargaPix Photography


2014 GC Photo Contest Winners Announced

In case you missed it, we revealed the 12 winning photographs from this year's contest after much deliberation (and sifting through more than 1,200 submissions!) for our 2015 calendar. In addition to the 12 winning photos, which can be viewed in our online Gallery, 31 additional photos were selected as "honorable mentions" to appear as small detail photographs within the calendar and on the back cover. The overall winning photo of a yellow-crowned night heron (who clearly has not had his morning coffee), pictured here, was taken by John Rollins of Kansas City, Missouri. We thank everyone who entered the contest this year! The 2015 calendar is currently available for pre-order.


Featured Online Resource: Discovering Galapagos

Galapagos Conservation Trust, our colleagues in the United Kingdom, launched its new online educational resource Discovering Galapagos in September in collaboration with The Book Bus. Described as a "curriculum-linked educational resource which focuses on the unique Galapagos Islands as a lesson for the world," the project consists of two comprehensive websites -- one for a UK audience, the other for Ecuadorians -- that share a bilingual blog. Complete with comprehensive Galapagos facts and interactive games for students, Discovering Galapagos also has a "Teacher Zone" with downloadable lesson plans appropriate for students ages 7-14. Incorporating concepts of conservation and sustainability into curricula for young Galapaguenos is part of creating a sustainable society in Galapagos, but beyond education, this is also a great resource for travelers to the Islands (and their kids!). Visit Discovering Galapagos to learn more.


Radio Interview on the Mangrove Finch Project

Francesca Cunninghame, Field Manager for the Mangrove finch project at the Charles Darwin Foundation, was recently interviewed by Radio New Zealand about her efforts to increase the population and range of Mangrove finches in Galapagos. Mangrove finches, a species of Darwin's finches that inspired Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory, are critically endangered -- less than 100 remain. Cunninghame and her team have implemented a “head-starting” program to combat the devastating chick mortality -- up to 95% -- experienced by these (and other) Galapagos land birds due to the parasitic fly Philornis downsi. In the interview, Cunninghame recounts how the team collected Mangrove finch eggs in the wild and hand-reared the chicks, which led to a successful release of 15 birds in the spring of 2014. Listen now.


Tortoise-Inspired Poetry

On Friday, September 26, The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor featured a beautiful poem by Margaret Atwood titled Elegy for the Giant Tortoises. Originally published in 1976, you can read the poem online or listen to a clip from the broadcast. Enjoy...and then read about efforts to restore tortoise populations across the Islands through the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative


Taking the CDF Specimen Collection into the Future

In part 2 of this two-part blog series, guest author Swen Lorenz, Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation, explores the future of the extensive specimen collection housed at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos.   One of the …

Reforming Galapagos Education: the Power of Listening

For over a year, Galapagos Conservancy has facilitated dialogue between the Ecuadorian Ministry of Education, the Scalesia Foundation (a Galapagos-based education non-profit), and members of the Galapagos education community about the need to strengthen education in ways that empower young …

Galapagos and Beyond: July Roundup

Our July roundup finally brings closure to the Galapaface fiasco off the coast of San Cristóbal, thankfully with minimal environmental impact. July also premiered the hour-long episode of Radiolab solely dedicated to Galapagos, and marks the submission deadline for the …

Galapagos and Beyond: June Roundup

June is the beginning of the “dry season” in Galapagos, known for its blue skies and mid-afternoon showers. It also marked the annual “World Oceans Day” and two-year anniversary of Lonesome George’s death. We cover these events and report on …

The Memory of Lonesome George Lives On

  Two years ago today, the world lost Lonesome George — the last known Pinta Island tortoise, who had become a global icon for conservation. The story of Lonesome George continues to inspire the vital work of protecting and rebuilding giant tortoise …

Summer Update from Galapagos: Annual Cruise and Tortoise Planning

I recently returned from a month in Galapagos, first enjoying the Islands with a wonderful group of people on the annual Galapagos Conservancy cruise, and then delving into decades of herpetology files at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) — a …

Galapagos and Beyond: May Roundup

May was a busy month for Galapagos, from a new study on Darwin’s Finches’ fight for survival to the cargo ship that remains stranded on the rocks off of San Cristobal. Here we recap some of the month’s top stories. …
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