Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) has been working closely with the Galapagos National Park (GNP) and other island partners to understand the best approach to tackling the issue of plastic pollution in the Archipelago since 2017 in our Plastic Pollution Free Galapagos programme.
As part of this programme and Join Science, GCT has developed Playas Sin Plasticos, aiming to connect local young people with their natural environment whilst providing valuable citizen science opportunities to reduce plastic pollution in the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
Visiting a sandy bay next to a popular visitor site, Punta Pitt on San Cristobal, the group are collecting monthly data on the mesoplastic (1 mm – 5 mm) and macroplastic (>5 mm) contamination. This site is important for a lot of species, including sea turtles that nest on this beach, the endemic lava gull that feeds on the shoreline and the rarest sub-species of marine iguana that live on the close by rocky shores.
Through the Playas Sin Plasticos project, we aim to gather information on the type of plastic that is found here and to investigate possible sources. This feeds into our wider work mapping where the rubbish comes from, how it gets to Galapagos and what happens to it when it arrives?
Developing a robust dataset will help highlight possible solutions to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution in Galapagos while engaging the local community and educating them on key conservation issues surrounding plastic pollution. We are also planning to focus on high risk vertebrate species such as marine iguanas, waved albatross, green sea turtles and the Galapagos sea lion. How often are these species encountering plastics? Is there any evidence of plastics getting into the marine food web? How can we work together to reduce the plastics risk to Galapagos wildlife?
To find out more about the project, please visit our blog for project updates.
How you can help
This work has been made possible thanks to GCT members, the Woodspring Trust, the Royal Geographical Society, Galapagos SharkSky Travel & Conservation and the British Embassy Quito.