In January 2022, the Galapagos Marine Reserve was officially expanded to provide a migratory swimway between Galapagos and Cocos Island, a no take zone for fishermen (so hopefully no nets).
The new marine reserve, called the Hermandad Reserve, will add 60,000 km2 (37,282 square miles)to an existing 138,000 km2 (85,750 square miles), including a 30,000km2 (18,641 square miles) no fishing zone on the Galapagos-Cocos Swimway route and a 30,000km2 no long line fishing zone northwest of the current Galapagos Marine Reserve boundary.
That happened thanks to the work of Migramar, a supergroup of scientists and organizations who were able to provide the data to merit the expansion at the governmental level. It would not have happened without their 10 year dedication to making it happen.
In September 2021, an 11 meter whale shark was tagged in Galapagos and headed towards Cocos in the area of the new Hermandad Marine Reserve. Next, the tag data showed her moving back towards Manta, the major fishing town on the coast of Ecuador. When the satellite tag moved inland, it seemed pretty blatant she had been taken by fishermen, thus making it painfully obvious why the swimway was so desperately needed.
High season to dive the Galapagos coincides with the time whale sharks migrate through Darwin and Wolf. If you are going to dive the Galapagos, please consider helping scientists help pelagic species. Here are 2 very important ways you can help:
1) Download the free app Shark Count before you leave home, set up your account and use it in Galapagos. It is designed so you can use it without internet and then it will upload your data once you have internet again. It helps you log shark sightings which in turn will help scientists with the data they need to protect sharks and other pelagic species. It began as an app only for Galapagos, but now include Mexico, Cocos and the Ecuadorian coast. You can find it on the App Store for iPhones or Google Play for Androids.
2) Use the photos you get of whale sharks to help identify individuals. This is really important. In May, an individual previously identified from photos in Galapagos was identified in Socorro! Scientists can’t tag all individuals, but divers who are willing to help can expand the opportunity to identify individuals enormously. And that’s data they can use to campaign on behalf of whale sharks.
You can learn how to take a photo that will identify an individual and can upload your identifying photos at the same site: Sharkbook: Wildbook for Sharks
It doesn’t take a lot of effort from you to make a difference in conservation. Please take the initiative in these 2 ways to make a difference. If you’re like me, the ocean has given me so much and this is an easy way to give back. Please. Pretty please.
My name is Leslie. In 2009, I pioneered island hopping dive tours in Galapagos & founded an agency working only in Galapagos. Over the years, I assisted hundreds (or more) of divers dive the Galapagos. In 2019, I successfully launched a new liveaboard in Galapagos, Calipso. Enter COVID. I now live on the Ecuadorian coast where there are very exciting possibilities.
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