Endangered Giant Turtle. It’s estimated that these turtles can live up to 200 years old. That means this guy has lived through climatic changes, pirates, Darwin and who knows what else!

Darwin Science Center on Santa Cruz Island

Local Fish Market

I’ve certainly learned a lot the past few weeks. Visiting Peru and Ecuador mainland before staying in The Galapagos, proved beneficial to my overall outlook on the subject of wildlife and tourism.

During the late 90′s, Ecuador had a very severe economic crisis.  The problem was so serious, that banks went bankrupt and many lost all of their savings.  This crisis drove people out of the country to other parts of the world such as Italy and Spain but some  went to The Galapagos. This crisis forced Ecuador to make a deal with the US. Until this day, Ecuador uses United States currency as their own country’s currency. I thought why would the US do this? Many parts in Ecuador’s Amazon Rainforest are oil rich which I learned the US has taken advantage of.

Individuals from all parts of the world have travelled to The Galapagos to make money. Besides Ecuadorians, Europeans, North and South Americans and even some Aussies are in some way connected to tourism/ecotoursim in the islands.  This is not to say that many of the people on the islands are newcomers. People have lived on these islands for their entire lives and a lot families go back generations.  They have a long history on the islands and life in The Galapagos is all they know.

This information is all connected with the problems facing the people of the islands, government and of course-the protection of wildlife.  Because of humans, many species have become extinct or endangered like the Giant Turtles.  Fisherman have fought with the government and The Darwin Station for rights to protect their livelihood.  In the 90′s, locals refer to a revolution in the islands regarding locals’ rights and the need to protect nature.

Along with all of this, there is a lot of corruption within governing forces (I heard).  Just as the states, money  and power often get people what they want.  I’ve seen this first hand as an “eco-hotel” was illegally being built near where I stayed.  It was illegal for many reasons including destroying wetland area, being too large in a zoned area near national park and hiring non-native people to build it among other things.

It’s tough to say who’s right and who’s wrong.  The good news is a lot of the islands are uninhabited by people and wildlife can continue being protected by the government.

2 comments to Galapagos….

  • vskilles

    I remember you mentioning you were there but can’t remember when…I didn’t realize how much power The Darwin Center has and I guess with power can come some corruption as well. A lot of the locals I spoke with didn’t agree with some of the scientists stances on environmental protection which was interesting and expected. In the 90s was when one of the politicians brought the fishing community into a war (so to speak) with the Darwin Center. Politics is such a crazy thing…

  • mshumangroh

    The Darwin Science Center hasn’t changed much since we were there. I’ve been seeing a lot of what is labelled ‘eco-hotel’ being built in the same circumstances. Looking forward to seeing more photos and talking with you when you return!