Last week we metaphorically returned to the Enchanted Isles with many of our supporters at Galapagos Day 2016. Galapagos Day is our annual supporters’ event and this year it was held in the beautiful location of Regent’s University London, right in the centre of the iconic Regent’s Park.
Around 200 attendees came to listen to a variety of speakers. GCT’s Chair, Mark Collins, kicked off the evening with a warm and entertaining introduction. He was followed by a short speech from His Excellency The Ambassador of Ecuador and a video from GCT president Monty Halls. Stanley Johnson, an ambassador for GCT, then entertained the audience with tales of the times he visited Galapagos, and highlighted how vital the Archipelago is to evolutionary science. He reminded the audience of how important conservation and education are for the natural world.
Dr Glyn Young, from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, gave a talk on the work he has been doing over the years in order to save the critically endangered mangrove finch from extinction. Glyn explained the problems the GCT-funded project faced, and how they tackled each obstacle to finally produce over 35 successfully hand-reared fledglings over the last three years. His in-depth talk highlighted the incredible lengths the project team go to in order to collect, hand-raise and release the mangrove finch chicks. He also talked about the challenges surrounding the conservation of the Floreana mockingbird.
Glyn was followed by Dr Amy MacLeod who talked about her recent research into the marine iguanas of the Islands, focusing on the genetics of the species. One of the most interesting facts she discovered through her research is that marine iguanas frequently travel between the islands of Fernandina and Isabela, meaning that the two populations interbreed. Towards the south east of the Archipelago, populations are much more isolated as the islands are spaced quite far apart.
Our third speaker focused more on the marine reserve. Dr Richard Kirby gave a talk on his favourite subject; plankton. He showed his work across the seven seas as well as Galapagos; his tools, techniques and outcomes of measuring and monitoring the differences in levels of plankton in sea water. Much of his work includes citizen science, where people measure the levels of plankton in the sea water using his home made device, then send the results to Richards’ database via a smartphone app, for him to analyse.
Back in the marquee, the students from Falmouth University’s Marine and Natural History Photography course gave a presentation including a video they had made on their recent photography trip to Galapagos. The students also produced a fantastic exhibition of their finest works from the trip; incredible photos of the landscape and animal life including sea lions, sally lightfoot crabs, spotted rays and the iconic giant tortoise. We also exhibited the winners of our Galapagos photography competition.
Towards the end of the night we announced the winner of this year’s raffle. We would like to thank everyone who bought a ticket; we raised a fantastic total of £9,324 and the prize went to Bernard Cooke. Bernard actually bought the tickets for his daughter, Sophia who conducted research on smooth-billed anis in the Islands. Sadly, she ran out of funding but thanks to her father winning our cruise, she is now able to go back out to Galapagos in order to complete her research. What a wonderful story to come out of the raffle! Sophia will be writing a blog on her research soon, so watch this space.
Here’s what she had to say:
‘I would like to thank the GCT for such a wonderful Galapagos Day and for organising the raffle. Winning flights to the Galapagos and the cruise means more to me than I can express. It means that I undertake the research needed to complete the first stage of my project, and begin planning for the next steps. And, of course, being able to include a relaxing five days on the cruise and visit islands I have never been to before feels like the best gift anyone could have given me!’
We would like to thank everyone who attended the event, who donated so generously on the night, the sponsors of the event Steppes Travel, Regent’s University London and Falmouth University and an especially big thank you to our volunteers who have helped us time and time again.
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