Unique Encounters at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos

Visitors to the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall encounter the full 13-meter skeleton of a Bryde´s whale, a tropical cetacean that is frequently seen in the waters of the Galapagos.

The visit to the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Island of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos is a lifetime dream for our visitors, according to Dennis Ballesteros, a Senior Guide with Metropolitan Touring, an organization that brings thousands of tourists to the islands every year. “The expectation of meeting real people who work on the ground, and to learn about their work in conservation, is a highlight for many people who come to these magical islands,” he said.

The Charles Darwin Research Station is located on the edge of the town of Puerto Ayora in Santa Cruz. The Galapagos Islands are part of Ecuador in South America, and a World Heritage Site located over 1,000 kilometres from the mainland. Established almost 70 years ago, the Charles Darwin Research Station was the first non-profit to be working in the archipelago for science and conservation. The Station has more than 18 active research projects, ranging from marine conservation and land-bird research to finding how to rid the Islands of invasive species.

Enhancing the Visitor's Experience

We opened the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall a year ago, thanks to the support of generous donors. Here, visitors can see our unique exhibits, including the skeleton of a 13-meter Bryde´s whale and beautiful murals painted by Carlyn Iverson, an artist from the United States, and by local Galapagos artists. There is also lots of fascinating information about conservation and science projects taking place in the Galapagos.

The Research Station is surrounded by beautiful gardens with plants found nowhere else in the world.

Artist and illustrator Carlyn Iverson, working on a mural in the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall.
Artist and illustrator Carlyn Iverson working on a mural in the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall. Photo by: Paola Díaz, Charles Darwin Foundation.

In 1965, we started the Galapagos giant tortoise captive breeding program in our Research Station, and began our collaboration with the Galapagos National Park. Together we now have a successful breeding program that is managed by the Park authority. Visitors that come to our Research Station can also visit the giant tortoise Breeding Centre right next door.

Visitors to the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall, hear a talk about the marine biodiversity in the Galapagos.
Visitors to the Charles Darwin Exhibition Hall hear a talk about marine biodiversity in the Galapagos. Photo by: Charles Darwin Foundation.

Juan Carlos Izurieta of the Tourism Observatory of Galapagos says that, of the 175,000 visitors that come through Baltra airport every year, around 120,000 visit the Charles Darwin Research Station. This is an amazing opportunity for us to talk about our conservation message.

Gardens are an important part at the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is working on a program to restore plants in parts of the Galapagos archipelago.
Gardens are an important part at the Charles Darwin Research Station, which is working on a program to restore plants in parts of the Galapagos archipelago. Photo by: Paola Díaz, Charles Darwin Research Station.

National Geographic Shares Storytelling Expertise

Among our newest visitors was a group of National Geographic experts who came to our Research Station this week for a Science Storytelling Bootcamp.

“It was inspiring for us to meet our colleagues here at the Research Station, to hear about their wonderful work and to work with them on a plan to communicate their conservation ideas and achievements with the rest of the world”, said David Braun, who is Director of Outreach for a digital publishing at the National Geographic Society.

This post was written during the workshop in which we were so lucky to receive tips from the the NatGeo team on how to communicate the amazing results of our work with a wider public.

Charles Darwin Research Station.
Charles Darwin Research Station. Photograph by: Paola Díaz.

The Charles Darwin Research Station and its new Exhibition Hall depend on donations to finance the important work of conservation and protection of the natural beauty and biodiversity of Galapagos.  If you would like to support our work, please visit our donations page.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Drève du Pieuré 19, 1160 Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

© 2018 Charles Darwin Foundation. All rights reserved.