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New Marine Reserve Announced at COP26 Summit, bravo Ecuador & neighbours!

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso announced an expansion of the Galapagos Marine Reserve during a trip to Glasgow for the COP26 Climate Change Summit. The 60,000 square kilometre addition to the existing reserve will protect crucial areas along the underwater Cocos Ridge seamount.

Photos by @jpverdesoto

The Cocos Ridge is part of the Coco-Galapagos Swimway. A migration route between the Costa Rica’s Cocos Islands and the Galapagos Islands.

Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama have joined together to protect the swimway. Mission Blue, Island Conservation, and the Galapagos Islands Trust are part of a collation of 150 organizations that prompted the creation of the new reserve.

Green sea turtles, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, leatherback sharks, and tiger sharks use the underwater swimway, which is now protected from commercial fishing.

In the Galapagos Islands, the waters surrounding Darwin and Wolf Islands harbour more sharks than anywhere else in the world. Female whale sharks stop here annually before giving birth in open waters on their way north.

The swimway between the Galapagos and the Cocos Islands has been called as a living laboratory for scientific research by Alex Hearn, a British marine biologist. Hearn is a founding member of the MigraMar scientific collective, having worked in the region for over two decades.

MigraMar’s research provided first-hand evidence to support the proposed expansion.

Threats to the extraordinary marine life in the Galapagos include fishing. The Galapagos National Park tightly regulates fishing inside the park’s borders, but foreign fishing fleets have encroached on the boundaries in recent years. Ships line the sea borders, waiting to catch sharks as they passed into unprotected waters.

The support for increasing protection of the waters surrounding ‘The Enchanted Islands’ from illegal fishing was enormous.

Ride Andes’ partners in the Galapagos have long supported conservation initiatives that protect the fragile eco-system in the islands. We help our clients find the right fit for a Galapagos Island trip by taking the guess work out of the equation. For more information about exploring Ecuador on land and by sea, please get in touch at your convenience.

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