The Noble Galapagos
"The love for all living creatures is the most noble attribute of man." said Charles Darwin, and so goes Darwin's love for these fascinating islands and the intriguing wildlife found there. The critical importance of the Galapagos wildlife was discovered by Darwin during his sailing trip around the world from 1831 to 1836 on the HMS Beagle. Through his curiosity and research, Darwin developed the concept of natural selection and the role it plays in species evolution.
There are a number of modern threats to the unique ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands which means that extra efforts must now be taken to ensure the the islands and the wildlife residing there remain undisturbed.
The threats include:
Illegal over fishing which strains the marine ecosystem that supports the life on the land.
Tourism is a problem as there are more than 160,000 visitors to the Galapagos Islands each year, and this volume of "guests" places a strain on the islands. There is more infrastructure being built to accommodate the crowd and more human waste to manage as a result. Tourism, of course, is not all bad as it also provides critical revenue to help in the conservation effort. (Actually, I'm "guilty" of visiting the islands myself, but I hope that my effort to highlight wildlife conservation and animal well being through For Their Future Photography will make amends.)
Human population in the Galapagos Islands has grown by 300% over recent decades. There are now over 33,000 human inhabitants and that number continue to increase. Like tourism, the more people that live there the more natural habitat is displaced and the more human waste that needs to be managed.
Theses threats add to the importance of supporting conservation efforts that are being undertaken to preserve the Galapagos. Conservation organizations include the Galapagos Conservancy, the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT), the World Wildlife Foundation, and the Charles Darwin Foundation.
The Galapagos is home to countless endemic and interesting species of wildlife including penguins, giant tortoises, sea lions, marine (swimming) iguanas and, of course, the blue footed boobie, all of which deserve our protection from harmful human interference. So let's all be noble as Darwin suggests and love each and every living creature in the Galapagos and elsewhere.