Galapagos and Beyond: July Roundup

July 31, 2014

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 GC annual photo contest. Finally, we bring you a nifty online resource for recording your observations in nature, anywhere in the world, and share a can’t-miss penguin slideshow. 


68 Days Later: Wrecked Cargo Ship Finally Removed from GMR

Galapaface I cargo ship sinks outside the GMR

More than two months after running aground off Punta Carola on San Cristóbal Island, the cargo ship Galapaface I was successfully towed approximately 20 nautical miles east of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) and sunk on July 16, 2014. The Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment and the Galapagos National Park were concerned that the ship posed a contamination risk after running aground on May 9th, which brought back memories of the oil tanker Jessica that ran aground in 2001 —  spilling 175,000 gallons of diesel and fuel oil. Thankfully, the Galapaface I did not meet a similar fate, as its fuel stores and other contaminants were carefully removed shortly after running aground. Plans are in place to conduct additional environmental monitoring studies to ensure the fragile marine ecosystems surrounding San Cristóbal have not sustained any lasting damage.


Radiolab Features Galapagos

Radiolab Galapagos podcast episode

In case you missed the thought-provoking episode of Radiolab that touched on some of the biggest conservation successes and challenges in the Galapagos Islands, take the time to download or stream it now. Produced by WNYC and picked up by more than 450 NPR stations across the US, Radiolab’s podcasts are downloaded by more than 4 million people each month. This rare hour-long episode solely dedicated to Galapagos features interviews with GC’s Science Advisor Linda Cayot and many of our grantees and partners in the Islands. Its exploration of the human impact on the fragile ecosystems of Galapagos and the ensuing challenges to preserve and restore the archipelago have garnered more than 50 comments on the Radiolab website alone about this compelling topic. Hear what people are talking about.


Featured Online Resource:

Screenshot of

We’ve mentioned the concept of citizen science several times in this blog, which relies on members of the community to report their observations from the natural world. In Galapagos, such information often comes from naturalist guides and visitors to the Islands. The website provides an online platform for citizen scientists to share their observations of the outdoors, anywhere in the world. According to the iNaturalist website, if enough people record their observations, it could serve as “a living record of life on Earth that scientists and land managers could use to monitor changes in biodiversity.” A quick search for Galapagos yields information on dozens of plant and animal species, including a description, photo, map location, and the first and last confirmed observation of a particular species (as reported on the site). Online tools like this have the potential to advance conservation science by bringing together a breadth of information, all with the help of citizen naturalists.


Photographing Galapagos Wildlife

Tortoise being photographed in Galapagos

Anyone who has visited Galapagos knows what a rare opportunity the Islands present for capturing amazing photographs of wildlife, most of which seem indifferent to the presence of humans (or even curious). As the GC Annual Photo Contest winds down for the 10th consecutive year, we thought we’d share some helpful tips for photographing Galapagos wildlife from Andrew Evans of National Geographic Traveler. Understanding the behavior of the animals, anticipating their movements, and having plenty of patience are some of the words of wisdom Evans provides in this piece from 2013. And don’t be afraid to get on the ground — as Evans states, “good wildlife photography should make you sweat a bit.” We look forward to seeing many more great shots of Galapagos wildlife in next year’s photo contest, with the help of Evans’ insightful advice.


Penguin Profiles from

Galapagos penguin pair

We regularly hear from our GC members how much they love penguins — and really, who doesn’t appreciate a penguin? When we came across Mother Nature Network’s penguin slideshow, which features 10 penguin species in total, we knew we had to share it here.

Complete with photos and a brief snippet of information about each bird, this slideshow will satisfy any need for penguin cuteness. The rare Galapagos penguin comes in at #10. Enjoy!


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