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31/08/2021 History of Galapagos

Obituary: David Balfour

Former UK Ambassador to Ecuador, Patrick Mullee, pays tribute to David Balfour, British Honorary Consul in the Galapagos Islands between 1988-2013.

Photograph of Patrick Mullee

Patrick Mullee

HM Ambassador, Ecuador 2012-2016 | HM Consul, Ecuador 2000-2003


Patrick Mullee (left) and David Balfour (right) in 2013 © Patrick Mullee

I was saddened to hear of David Balfour’s death after illness last month. I had the great privilege of working with David for many years during postings at the British Embassy in Ecuador.  

He never lost the seafarer’s spirit of adventure that carried him to the Galapagos Islands in the first place.

In 1962 David set sail from England in his boat Lucent bound for a new life in Australia. However, what was meant to be a brief stop-over in the Enchanted Islands changed everything. The voyage to Australia ended in Santa Cruz and David had found his true home. In those early years he plied the Islands carrying staff from the Charles Darwin Research Station and other scientists. Later he would spend time collecting specimens in the Pacific for the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, before returning to the UK to bring in a larger boat, the Golden Cachalot.

In 1977 David embarked on a successful business partnership with Ecuador’s leading tourism company, Metropolitan Touring. This was also the year for beginning another successful partnership when he married Maria Eulalia Arizaga.  David and Maria Eulalia went on to have two sons, Andrew and Robert.

David was appointed Britain’s Honorary Consul in the Galapagos Islands in 1988.  With his encyclopaedic knowledge of the Galapagos Islands he was able to provide outstanding service to the Embassy in Quito and to many British residents and visitors.  This service was formally recognised when the Queen awarded an MBE to David in 1998.  

He was always actively engaged with environmental issues and determined to protect the unique natural heritage he first encountered in 1962 and which compelled him to drop anchor there for the rest of his life.  For many years he also served as a Governing Member of the Charles Darwin Foundation.

I join Galapagos Conservation Trust in sending condolences to Maria Eulalia, Andrew, Robert and their families.             

By Patrick Mullee

HM Ambassador, Ecuador 2012-2016 | HM Consul, Ecuador 2000-2003                       

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