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: 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 penguin and mangrove finch conservation efforts in this month's roundup.

 

Protecting Galapagos Penguins, One Photograph at a Time

Long-time penguin expert Dr. Dee Boersma is using photographs taken by visitors of Galapagos to help inform research and conservation efforts of endangered Galapagos penguins. Visitors are invited to submit photos to iGalápagos.org, which will be used to help determine where penguins are located, the population size, whether and when they are breeding and molting, and their overall body condition. Dr. Boersma is part of a growing trend of researchers who are relying on the help of non-scientists (such as tourists, tour guides, and local residents) to provide valuable information on animals in a particular location. Visitors' photos will help Boersma and her team evaluate the condition of penguins in Galapagos, and shape how they move forward in plans for their conservation. The iGalápagos website provides comprehensive information on where to find penguins in Galapagos, what specifically to photograph, the biology of penguins, and more.

 

Project Update: 15 Captive-Reared Mangrove Finches Successfully Released

The first 15 mangrove finch chicks hatched in captivity earlier this were recently released back into their natural habitat, a small area of mangrove forest on Isabela Island. The addition of these 15 birds is significant for this endemic species, of which only an estimated 60-80 individuals remain. Like other land birds in Galapagos, mangrove finches are threatened by the parasitic fly Philornis downsi, whose larvae feed on the blood of nestlings and cause a high mortality rate.

 

The successful release of the captive-reared finches marks the beginning of a project that is hoped to prevent this small population from going extinct. In the meantime, scientists continue to diligently study the life cycle of the Philornis fly in order to better understand it — and ultimately, find a way to eradicate it in order to protect the mangrove finch and other species of Darwin's finches.

 

Lonesome George Museum Exhibit Coming to NYC

June 24, 2014 marked the two-year anniversary of the passing of Lonesome George, the last known survivor of the Pinta tortoise (Chelonoidis abingdoni) from Pinta Island in the northern regions of Galapagos. As on other islands, Pinta tortoises were over-exploited by whalers, fur sealers, and others in the 1800s. Lonesome George became a conservation icon in his embodiment of human-caused extinction, and his story will soon be shared with visitors to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in NYC starting this fall. Lonesome George's body has been preserved and will be on display at the AMNH exhibit before being returned to the government of Ecuador.

 

Stunning Underwater Photos in Honor of World Oceans Day

World Oceans Day, a day designated by the United Nations to celebrate and protect the biodiversity of ocean life, took place on June 8, 2014. In honor of the event, National Geographic compiled a series of breathtaking photos to illustrate how underwater photography can educate people about the ocean and its inhabitants. Dolphins, sea turtles, a whale shark, and even a polar bear are some of the images captured in this remarkable collection. View the underwater photos.

 

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. …

“Understanding Galapagos:” What a Galapagos Guide Book Should Be

Renowned as they are, there is still so much that remains little-known about the Galapagos Islands. Start with the fact that it wasn’t actually the Darwin finches that inspired Charles Darwin, but the mockingbirds. Equally, nearly anyone realizes just how …

Galapagos and Beyond: April Roundup

Galapagos has been in the news quite a bit lately, and not just among the “top 10 best travel destinations” lists that have been cropping up. In this month’s roundup, we highlight some recent news and interesting stories from Galapagos. …

Behind the Galapagos Tortoise Cams: Part II

In Part I of the tortoise cam blog series, we heard about some of the technical aspects of getting the cams up and running from Dr. James Gibbs of SUNY-ESF and Sean Burnett of Wildlife Intel. In the second and final installment, they …

Behind the Galapagos Tortoise Cams: Part I

In the summer of 2013, the first-ever wildlife webcams were installed in the Galapagos Islands: specifically, in four tortoise pens at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center at the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) campus on Santa Cruz. In addition to support …

Galapagos and Beyond: March Roundup

In this month’s roundup, we feature some of our favorite stories from Galapagos–including Mangrove Finch captive breeding and Galapagos Marine Reserve sea urchins–along with two unique supporters of Galapagos Conservancy, Reptile Gardens and STU[art]. Beyond Galapagos, we feature photographer Mark Tipple‘s striking …
Tortoise Cam

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