Ambassadors and diplomats from the European Union, with representation in Ecuador and the region visited Santa Cruz, to hold working meetings with several state organizations and institutions and to conduct a microplastic cleanup at Tortuga Bay beach. This will be part of their EU Beach Cleanup campaign.

Meeting of European Union ambassadors and diplomats with CDF Executive Director Rakan Zahawi in the meeting room of the Inspiration Complex. Photo by: Rashid Cruz, CDF.
Meeting of European Union ambassadors and diplomats with CDF Executive Director Rakan Zahawi in the meeting room of the Inspiration Complex. Photo by: Rashid Cruz, CDF.

On Thursday, October 14, the meeting room of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) hosted the international representatives for discussions with local and provincial authorities such as our Executive Director, Rakan Zahawi; the President of the Governing Council of the Special Regime of Galapagos, Joan Sotomayor; officials of the National Police, NGOs, among others, to learn about their work and strengthen relationships to continue and further cooperation.

Road to Tortuga Bay beach. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, FCD.
Road to Tortuga Bay beach. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, FCD.

Early on Friday morning, the delegation, accompanied by the Minister of the Environment, Gustavo Manrique, our director, the director of the Galapagos National Park, the director of the Galapagos Biosecurity Regulation and Control Agency, the CDF science club "Shark-ambassadors" volunteers from the Frente Insular movement, Conservation International, and the media, set out for Tortuga Bay beach to clean up microplastics.


Philip Schauer, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany expressed his concern about this reality "It is impressive the amount of microplastics we found on the pristine beach of Tortuga Bay during the #EUBeachCleanUp, it shows how we are all linked in the world in terms of environment and that we have to work together."

Ambassadors together with the CDF Science Club executing the microplastic cleanup activity. Photo by: Rashid Cruz, CDF.
Ambassadors together with the CDF Science Club executing the microplastic cleanup activity. Photo by: Rashid Cruz, CDF.

"We are happy that our little ambassadors were able to guide them and solve their doubts during the course of this morning. CDF believes deeply in investing in the future leaders of the islands who are undoubtedly agents of change in their families and the community." said CDF Executive Director Rakan Zahawi.

From left to right: Danny Rueda, Galapagos National Park Director; Rakan Zahawi, CDF Executive Director; and Gustavo Manrique, Minister of Environment. Photo by: Rashid Cruz, CDF.
From left to right: Danny Rueda, Galapagos National Park Director; Rakan Zahawi, CDF Executive Director; and Gustavo Manrique, Minister of Environment. Photo by: Rashid Cruz, CDF.

During this activity, authorities and volunteers agreed on the importance of reducing the use of plastics and improving waste sorting processes to give the planet a break.

“We must not forget that what we do today will affect future generations, which is why, as part of the science club, we learn to love and protect our environment and share with the public the importance of conserving the Galapagos Islands," said Hally Angulo, a member of the CDF science club "Shark-ambassadors".

 CDF Shark-ambassador Hally Angulo checking the amount of microplastic found. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, CDF.
CDF Shark-ambassador Hally Angulo checking the amount of microplastic found. Photo by: Juan Manuel García, CDF.

 

On the 2nd of June to the 1st of July 2021, the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp was held, within the Coastal Fisheries Initiative – Challenge Fund Ecuador, a project implemented by the World Bank with the support of the Charles Darwin Foundation, and which was technically managed ty EDES (Business School of the Particular Technical University of Loja). The workshop involved the participation of 47 entrepreneurs related to the value chain of Galapagos fisheries. The training program included topics such as: business models, customer service and attention, finance for entrepreneurs, sustainable ventures, among others. A total of 18 participants completed the program and obtained a certificate, for recognizing their effort and knowledge acquired along these working sessions, during a ceremony held on the 16th of September in Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz island.

From left to right: Johanna Carrión, CDF; Brenda Villa, entrepreneur; and Rosana Ruzza, EDES. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF.
From left to right: Johanna Carrión, CDF; Brenda Villa, entrepreneur; and Rosana Ruzza, EDES. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF.

Brenda Villa, one of the graduates thanked for the support provided and expressed "These ventures that we have created are made with love, with a vision of community growth highlighting our gastronomic culture that is very rich and little known throughout the world."

In this event, the 9 ventures qualified to be beneficiaries of the Acceleration Phase (model development, business plans and financial feasibility), the incubation phase were also presented. In this regard, awards were also given to the members of these initiatives.

From left to right: Johanna Carrión, CDF; Luis Gallegos, entrepreneur; and Rosana Ruzza, EDES. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF
From left to right: Johanna Carrión, CDF; Luis Gallegos, entrepreneur; and Rosana Ruzza, EDES. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF

"This support from the consortium allows us to improve our quality of life with these ventures that were born from the effort of each one of us." Said Luis Gallegos, beneficiary of the Acceleration Phase.

The Galapagos Entrepreneurship Community, one of the means to deliver technical assistance of the Coastal Fisheries Initiative – Challenge Fund Ecuador, a project financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the World Bank Group with technical support from the Charles Darwin Foundation, Conservation International, Presencing Institute, Commonland and the EDES business school.

The event was held at the Bahía Mar Restaurant in Santa Cruz. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF
The event was held at the Bahía Mar Restaurant in Santa Cruz. Photo: Rashid Cruz, CDF

A CONSTANT SUPPORTER OF THE CHARLES DARWIN FOUNDATION

David Balfour arrived in Galapagos in 1962, on his way to Australia – but he never left! Like so many people, he fell for the islands and made them his home. He arrived on board his small yacht “Lucent”, along with his sailing partner Roger Jameson.
He remained until late 1964 - 1965, doing charter trips for the Charles Darwin Station and taking visiting scientists to their camps around the Islands. He was a very good correspondent with his family and as his letters were saved, they provide a fascinating account of life in those early days. His wonderful sense of humour and also spirit of adventure come through clearly.

David Balfour. Photo courtesy of: Georgina Marten.
David Balfour. Photo courtesy of: Georgina Marten.

David describes taking Bryan Nelson and his wife to Tower, where they planned to spend a year studying the boobies. His crew member on this trip was a New Zealander, Sandy, who had stopped “temporarily” in Galapagos 14 years previously! The voyage there and back was fraught with difficulties, including the panga’s outboard “expiring” as they tried to offload a little field fridge in huge swells – and having to nail a piece of driftwood to a bamboo pole to be able to steer. While this went on “to make matters worse, two of the only three sacks of flour split, and their contents rapidly turned themselves into a sticky paste which spread from the decks of Lucent to the floor boards of the dingy”.


In his book GALAPAGOS, Islands of Birds, Bryan writes of David “He was a splendid character…. he loved the sea and lived happily aboard the Lucent pottering around in a pair of tattered canvas shorts, a beard and the sun. Life is a lottery in more ways than one. In ninety-nine cases it produces a normal humdrum person with comfortably limited horizons and luxury goods ambitions, while in the hundredth it turns up someone like Dave Balfour who surrenders a good job to adventure in out-of-the-way places”.


His account of the official inauguration of the Research Station and all the arrangements necessary beforehand is wonderful. Dignitaries started to arrive in Baltra on the 15th January 1964 and after being introduced by CDRS Director, Dr. Snow, David was asked how long it would take to get to Academy Bay “about 8 hours if the current is not too strong” - But we understood four hours would be ample! “They began to realise some of the complications entailed in attending inauguration ceremonies in the Galapagos”. “It was a merry group until the South Channel, where the swell rose and the laughter subsided. We anchored at 11.00 p.m.”
“The inauguration ceremony was held on the 21st – a long morning of speeches under a hot sun. The Ambassadors were fluent and sometimes amusing. Californian champagne was produced and the French Ambassador was asked for his opinion…this put him in a difficult position, and after due consideration he announced “I think that when the cork is pulled it makes a very pleasant pop!” These are delightful descriptions that contrast with the serious black and white photos that we have seen of the ceremony!

David spent most of February taking scientists to various parts of the archipelago, and he describes “the deck became a flourishing botanical garden and the fridge was converted into a deep freeze for lizards and birds. At one time I found some odd rocks lying in the cabin and heaved them over board(!) – and then thought it wiser to keep quiet while some poor scientist searched high and low for valuable items of his collection”.

Mary Eulalia Arizaga, wife of David Balfour. Photo courtesy of: Sylvia Harcourt
Mary Eulalia Arizaga, wife of David Balfour. Photo courtesy of: Alfonso Carrasco, CDF.

David returned to UK, to come back with a bigger boat, Golden Cachalote, which he continued to use to take CDRS scientists around as well as getting involved with tourism. His connections with Galapagos increased, he married Maria Eulalia whom he met in the Metropolitan Touring office in Quito, and they have two sons, Andrew and Robert. He was always a very staunch supporter of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), a longtime member of the General Assembly, and helped the institution through difficult times. His support to CDF was based on his strong conviction of the importance of conservation and education in Galapagos. This led to him being a founder member of Fundacion Scalesia and the Tomas de Berlanga school in Santa Cruz.

From left to right: Prince Charles, Camilla of Cornwall and David Balfour. Photo courtesy of: Patrick Mullee, ex British ambassador.
From left to right: HRH Prince Charles, Camilla of Cornwall and David Balfour. Photo courtesy of: Patrick Mullee, ex British Ambassador.

As if this didn’t keep him busy enough, he was Galapagos Honorary Consul for the British Embassy from 1988 to 2013 and was a constant source of help, keeping the Embassy informed about the work of the CDF, and helping host the visit by HRH Prince Charles in 2009.
I first met the Balfours in 1979 and have been friends since then – a wonderful family, with whom I have shared interests and laughter, in Galapagos and Quito.

David, a remarkable man, ethical, responsible, a great sense of humour and who loved Galapagos, and Scottish dancing! We will miss you David.

David Balfour and Sylvia Harcourt were great friends. Photo courtesy of: Sylvia Harcourt.
David Balfour and Sylvia Harcourt were great friends. Photo courtesy of: Alfredo Carrasco, CDF.

Sylvia Harcourt, CDF Member, 2021

The Charles Darwin Foundation is participating in the IUCN World Conservation Congress with the session titled Bioinvasions in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and the Galapagos Islands: a biosafety network initiative presented by our scientist Dr. Inti Keith, principal investigator of the Marine Invasive Species program.

The Marine Invasive Species project led by Dr. Keith was created with the goal of mobilizing invasion science and management solutions that protect, empower and sustain coastal communities. Dr. Keith explains how "The number of marine species introduced to the Galapagos Islands is 10 times higher than previously known: at present, a minimum of 53 exotic marine animals have been documented in the Archipelago,"

Dr. Keith states that the challenge is not just to promote biosecurity in one place, but to implement a coordinated regional approach to marine biosecurity in all countries. In short, biosecurity capacity (prevention, detection and response) is more effective and efficient at the regional level. "We have launched the Coastal Ocean Marine Biosecurity Network of the Americas (COMBINA) to advance and coordinate marine biosafety throughout the American continent, from Chile to the United States (Alaska)," she says in his presentation.

"Through this network we intend to address the new critical biosafety challenges for the conservation and preservation of marine resources in the Galapagos Islands, which are also shared throughout the Pacific" concluded the scientist.

Also participating in this global event are Rakan Zahawi, Executive Director; María José Barragán, Director of Sciences; Renée Monroe, Director of Philanthropy and Patricia Jaramillo, Principal Investigator of the Galapagos Verde 2050 project and General Coordinator of the Natural History Collections.

The ‘Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands’, in French ‘Fondacion Charles Darwin  pour les Iles Galapagos’, Association Internationale sans but lucrative (AISBL), has its registered office at Avenue Louise 54, 1050 Brussels, Belgium. Trade Registry # 0409.359.103

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