Galápagos Conservancy

May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity

May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
A finch rests atop the head of a giant tortoise, showcasing a perfect example of natural coexistence. ©Kim Christie

On May 22, the World celebrates the International Day for Biological Diversity, an important occasion to raise awareness about the significance of biodiversity and to promote its conservation. We reflect upon the necessity to protect and care for our planet, recognizing biodiversity’s fundamental role in the sustainability of human life by providing vital ecosystem services, such as food production, climate regulation, natural disaster prevention, and air and water purification. Therefore, it is significant to reflect on our individual and collective actions to conserve and restore biological diversity.

In this context, the Galápagos archipelago stands out as unique and vital for global biodiversity. This is because these islands are a refuge for a wide variety of endemic species, that is species found nowhere else on Earth.

May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
A seahorse feeds, revealing the exquisite beauty and delicacy of marine life. ©Carlos Palma
May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
Marine iguanas and Sally lightfoot crabs share the rocks, showcasing peaceful species interaction in their habitat. ©Carol Hemminger

The Uniqueness of Galápagos

The Galápagos archipelago, located about 620 miles off the coast of Ecuador, is renowned for its biodiversity. The islands are home to over 2,000 endemic species, representing a true trove of biodiversity. These endemic species include a wide variety of plants, terrestrial and marine animals, and insects. The high rate of endemism in Galápagos is the primary reason these islands are considered a place of great importance for biological conservation.

In 1978, UNESCO declared Galápagos a World Heritage Site, and in 2001, the Galápagos Marine Reserve received the same recognition. status underscores the need to conserve these unique environments in the face of threats such as climate change, invasive species, and human activity.

The Work of Galápagos Conservancy

Since our establishment in 1985, Galápagos Conservancy has been dedicated to the long-term protection and restoration of the ecosystems in the Galápagos archipelago. We collaborate closely with the Galápagos National Park Directorate to safeguard endangered species, such as pink iguanas, Galápagos penguins, sea lions, and hammerhead sharks, among others. Our work encompasses rapid response interventions and many ongoing projects aimed at addressing various threats faced by these species.

Furthermore, we are committed to restoring Galápagos’ ecosystems by supporting the removal of invasive species and the reintroduction of giant tortoises to islands where they have become extinct, actions fundamental for protecting the remarkable biological diversity of the islands.

May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
A hammerhead shark at Darwin Island captivates with its gaze in the ocean's depths. ©Paul Schmieder
May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
A Galápagos penguin, an endemic species of the archipelago, peacefully rests on the rocks. ©Kathy Reeves

Challenges and Future

Climate change, invasive species, and overfishing drive species extinction in the islands. Despite this,  Galápagos remains one of the best-preserved archipelagos in the world. Through our actions, we aim to continue contributing to ensuring a sustainable future for the islands. However, the long-term health of Galápagos depends on our collective efforts and ongoing commitment to conservation.

On this International Day for Biological Diversity, we reaffirm our commitment to protecting the unique biodiversity of the Galápagos archipelago. We deeply value the support and collaboration of individuals and organizations dedicated to the conservation of these special islands. Your contribution plays a crucial role in protecting the island’s unique ecosystems and ensuring a sustainable future for Galápagos. We invite you to remain actively involved in these vital conservation efforts. Together, we can safeguard one of the most precious natural treasures of our planet.

May 22: Celebrating International Day for Biological Diversity
Two blue-footed boobies dance, offering a captivating glimpse into the wildlife of the Galápagos. ©Dave Pitrak