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Galápagos Islands adds Protection for Marine Sanctuary.
scubadivingnomad - 5/03/2016 4:28 AM
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Category: Travel
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Galápagos Islands adds Protection for Marine Sanctuary.

The Galápagos Islands has long been a favorite destination for scuba divers. The liveaboard trip to the far north of the island chain to the remote islands of Darwin and Wolf is the trip for shark lovers. These islands have the highest biomass of sharks in the world. However, while high recent studies have shown that the number is getting smaller. A major contribution to that is illegal fishing. This recent study reinforced an plan already under consideration, Expanding the protection for the marine areas. On March 21st ,Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, announced the creation of the Galápagos Islands Marine Sanctuary. Much of the area around the Galapagos islands has been protected such as Galápagos Marine Reserve around the northern Galápagos islands of Darwin and Wolf. This new sanctuary improves the protection. Joining the Galápagos Marine Reserve are Twenty-one smaller areas make up the rest of the 18,000 square miles (47,000 square kilometers) Marine Sanctuary.

Hammerhead shark, Cocos Island, Costa Rica.jpg
By Barry Peters - Flickr, CC BY 2.0,

The Galápagos Marine Reserve is very remote and at the far north of the archipelago over 300 kilometers from the central islands. The new status brings forth additional resources to protect the area and increased penalties for violations.

The Charles Darwin Research Station was the one responsible for the latest research project that was focused around Wolf and Darwin islands. They found that the area had a fish biomass averaging 17.5 tons per hectare. About 75% of the biomass was of shark and ray species. The is clear proof that more sharks are found here then anywhere else. The next highest biomass in the world according to current surveys is the Coco Island National Park of Costa Rica some 450 kilometers to the north. Coco Islands also noted for it massive shark population has a biomass statistic of 9 tons per hectare, which is nearly equally divided between sharks/ray and other marine life. As great as the 17.5 tons figure is, it is still a decline in shark populations. These new initiatives are designed to protect the marine life and help bring the levels back up.

The only way to dive the Wolf and Darwin islands is by liveaboard dive boats. Divers will fly into the Galápagos islands from mainland ,Ecuador into one of the two airports in the central island area. From their they will join their liveaboard dive boats for a trip headed north. Along the way they will stop for dives daily. Galápagos islands has four major ocean currents that converge on them. Each brings waters with different climate conditions and the marine life that goes with it. Divers will encounter both tropical marine life and temperate marine life, often on the same dive. Dive boats generally stay two days at the remote island before heading back, most of the trips are 10 day trips, however 7 and 12 day trips are also common. You can find more information on liveaboard diving the Galápagos islands on the dive zone website.