Environment

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The Galapagos Face Uncertain Future

February 03, 2008 11:08 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Fifty-three sea lions found bludgeoned to death on the Galapagos Islands draw attention to the vulnerability of a valuable ecosystem. Conservationists urge tourists to behave responsibly.

30-Second Summary

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According to a Jan. 27 article in The New York Times, the annual number of visitors to the Galapagos has risen from 40,000 in 1990 to 145,000 in 2006.

The damage this tourist boom has caused was underscored by the recent discovery of 53 dead sea lions on Pinta Island.

In July 2007, the Galapagos Islands were added to Unesco’s “List of World Heritage in Danger," reported The Guardian. Critics worried that the list would prompt even more tourists to visit.

Over the past two years, partner organizations the Galapagos Conservancy and the Charles Darwin Foundation have called on local officials to reconsider their tourism policies.

“The tourist sector has shown that it is not interested in conservation,” Ecuadorian environmentalist Deborah Chiriboga told the Galapagos Conservation Trust in response to increasing cruise ship activity.

In 2001, a ship struck a reef near San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos, spilling nearly 144,000 gallons of oil into the ocean. According to The Daily Telegraph, the ship had been transporting fuel to another tourist vessel.

The Web site Responsible Travel encourages people to visit the Galapagos Islands, but to do so with care and caution: “The long term future of the Galapagos lies in setting a balance between protection of the environment, the creation of sustainable local economic development and ensuring that the visitor experience is not diminished.”

Headline Links: Galapagos at risk

Background Links: Tourism out of control?

Related Links: Wildlife in danger

Reference: First visitors to the Galapagos

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