Conserving the Galapagos Islands with Ecoventura

We explored the underwater paradise of Galapagos with Ecoventura.

This article was co-written by Salomé Buglass.

Approximately a year ago, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Ecuadorian tour-company, Ecoventura, and the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and which produced ‘The Galapagos Biodiversity and Education for Sustainability Fund’ (GBESF). Ecoventura is giving the total sum of its cabin sales during two cruises to the Charles Darwin Foundation and the Galapagos National Park Directorate for the conservation of the archipelago.

Trip on board the M/V Galapagos Sky

We’re two marine biologists at CDF who had the honor of getting onboard the first cruise for GBESF, with the objective of giving talks and getting to know the beauty of the islands. We shared the cruise together with 14 guests from the United States, the UK, France, Switzerland and Israel, who received us with open arms together with the ship’s crew.

Salomé Buglass (left) y Nicolás Moity (right) with the shreds of a plastic bag that guides untied from a marine turtle.
Salomé Buglass (left) y Nicolás Moity (right) with the shreds of a plastic bag that guides untied from a marine turtle. Photo by: Max Castillo.

Days were filled with diving activities: three to four every day, in which we confirmed, together with the rest of the guests, the wonderful consequences of the Galapagos Marine Reserve’s conservation for the last 20 years. Being able to experience Galapagos underwater in this manner was a unique opportunity for us to absorb the beauty that this marine paradise offers.

During the diving week on board the GalapagosSky, one can get to appreciate the changes in ecosystems and the endemic biodiversity that is found on this unique archipelago. One day you’re diving along a tropical coral reef visited by massive schools of fish and hammerhead sharks, and the next morning you’re swimming in a cold water algae garden where marine iguanas are feeding.

The sighting of a marine turtle.
The sighting of a marine turtle. Photo by: Salomé Buglass.

During the nights onboard, we were able to give scientific talks to explain the work that we do at CDF for the conservation of the Galapagos marine Reserve. The guests and naturalist guides were extremely interested in the talks and participated actively.

Nicolás Moity giving a scientific talk.
Nicolás Moity giving a scientific talk. Photo by: Salomé Buglass.

“I really enjoyed the talks. It was very interesting. I look forward to the next ones!”
— said Jan, one of the guests on board the ship.

One of the themes we talked about of the talks was about our Seamount and Ecosystem Services Research Project which we have been carrying out at CDF since 2015. Seamounts are vertical structures that emerge from the bottom of the ocean, but do not emerge over the surface of the sea. Our investigation focuses on characterizing for the first time the biodiversity and ecology of these underwater mountains, which are found at depths of 300-3400m.

We also talked about the DiveStat project, a tourism project about tourism and sustainable diving in the Galapagos Maine Reserve, which was financed in 2016 by funds donated by Ecoventura. After two years we were able to see plenty of achievements today and thanks to the generous donations by Ecoventura, DiveStat has become a good example of monitoring marine tourism in the Galapagos Marine Reserve and in the entire region.

The excursion also took us to the remote islands of Darwin and Wolf, where we saw schools of hammerheads.
The excursion also took us to the remote islands of Darwin and Wolf, where we saw schools of hammerheads. Photo by: Nicolás Moity.
Exploring the black coral.
Exploring the black coral. Photo by: Nicolás Moity.
A sea horse in the west of the archipelago.
A sea horse in the west of the archipelago. Photo by: Nicolás Moity.

“I feel so fortunate and privileged to be on this ship with you because otherwise I would have come, dived and would have left without knowing anything, without learning about the conservation challenges for Galapagos”
— said Alessia, one of the guests on the ship.

Ecoventura’s support with this fund will be essential for the continuity of the CDF’s research and the Galapagos National Park Directorate’s (GNPD) management efforts. For more information about CDF and the GNPD and to book a trip to the Galapagos Islands with one of our scientific staff, please visit Ecoventura’s website .

The passengers and crew, together with Nicolás Moity and Salomé Buglass.
The passengers and crew, together with Nicolás Moity and Salomé Buglass. Photo by: José Bravo.

CDF depends entirely on the generosity of our donors. Please donate today.

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.

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