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September 29, 2015
A naturalist guide recently alerted Galapagos National Park rangers that a juvenile sea lion needed help on South Plaza Island, where it was observed by a group of tourists with an object around its neck. The Park’s Rapid Response Network was activated in order to come to the aid of the sea lion.
After receiving the call, a team aboard the Park vessel Sea Ranger 10 headed to the visitor site, where they found the sea lion immobilized with the octagonal base of a diving tank around its neck. They were able to use pliers to cut it away from the sea lion, and they determined that the animal was otherwise in good health before it ventured back to the sea.
Danny Rueda, Director of Ecosystems for the Park, stressed the importance of the contribution made by naturalist guides — which in this case allowed the Park to come to the rapid aid of this sea lion. “The tourism industry can help guide us when something like this occurs in places where there is no permanent presence of Park guards,” he stated.
This incident also brings attention to tourist dive operators in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, who Rueda stressed need to conduct their operations more carefully and prevent diving accessories from getting loose and falling into the sea, as they can clearly become a danger to wildlife.
The Galapagos Wildlife Rapid Response Network was established to offer rapid and and effective rescue of injured animals impacted by human activities. The Park recommends that individuals do NOT attempt to come to the aid of wildlife themselves, but to use the phone numbers 05-3015355, ECU-911, and alert the Galapagos National Park offices.
Translated with permission from the Galapagos National Park Directorate.