In 2022 we celebrated a big win for ocean conservation, with the expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve – based on years of research and fieldwork funded by GCT and others – increasing the protection of Ecuador’s waters from 15% to 18.9%. However, endangered marine species in Galapagos continue to face threats throughout their lives.
Within the Marine Reserve, mangroves that provide vital nursery sites for endangered baby sharks and rays are threatened by pollution. Beyond the protection of the Marine Reserve, migratory species such as whale sharks and scalloped hammerheads are deliberately targetted for their fins or caught as ‘bycatch’ by industrial fishing fleets, which operate with impunity on the high seas. And across the Galapagos Archipelago, a growing tide of plastic pollution is ensnaring wildlife and entering the food chain, affecting iconic marine species such as waved albatrosses, flightless cormorants and marine iguanas.
In our spring webinar we discussed these threats to marine life in Galapagos, showing how research supported by GCT is deepening our understanding of the connections between the Galapagos Marine Reserve and the wider Eastern Tropical Pacific. We looked at how tagging and tracking whale sharks has helped to map out new marine protected areas, as well as providing disturbing evidence of the impact of industrial fishing on these gentle giants. We also presented some of the findings from the last five years of plastic pollution research in Galapagos and the Eastern Tropical Pacific, identifying the sources and devastating effects of plastic waste in Galapagos, and highlighting some of the potential solutions to tackling this pervasive problem.
Watch the recording:
Project Founder & Director, Galapagos Whale Shark Project
Investigator / Data Analyst, Galapagos Whale Shark Project
Dr Jen Jones
Interim CEO & Head of Programmes, Galapagos Conservation Trust
PPSS Project Manager, Galapagos Conservation Trust