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November 22, 2016
A scientific expedition to monitor key species of the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) and evaluate possible impacts of El Niño events on the ecosystems recently took place for the third time. In this expedition, experts and scientists from the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), the Galapagos Science Center of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), and the Galapagos Biosecurity Agency (ABG) visited 28 sites on 14 islands in the Archipelago over a two-week period.
Although the study covered countless species, including reptiles and birds, this effort focused on the population status of the two species of endemic Galapagos sea lions (Zalophus wollebaeki) and Arctocephalus galapagoensis), as well as the marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), through population censuses in the main distribution areas around the Archipelago. Analyses of the health status of individuals from each of these species were made and biological samples were taken to carry out studies of the trophic dynamics and their ecological behavior, in order to understand their response capacity in the presence of climatological events such as El Niño .
Unlike previous research trips, equipment and a laboratory were installed on board the GNPD’s research vessel, the Sierra Negra, to monitor oceanographic conditions present in the region. More than 30 stations located around the Archipelago provided data, and water samples were taken to analyze the temperature, salinity, and quantity and quality of phytoplankton at different depths to determine the levels of marine productivity in the different areas of the Archipelago. Participating organizations are currently evaluating the results of this expedition.
Content based on a press release from the Galapagos National Park Directorate, translated with their permission.