Ecuador Creates New Galapagos Marine Sanctuary

New sanctuary protects most abundant shark population in the world at Wolf and Darwin Islands in the Galapagos
By Brent Durand

Ecuador's government has announced the creation of a new 15,000 square mile marine sanctuary around Wolf and Darwin, plus several other no-take zones around the Galapagos Islands.

The Galapagos are known to be one of the essential "destinations of a lifetime" for scuba divers and are undoubtedly one of the best places to dive in the world. The islands are a UNESCO World Heritage site with over 80,000 square miles of protected areas, and the new reserve increases the ocean protection around the islands to 32%. This is critical in a time when we see world shark populations in decline and illegal fishing on the rise.

Fishing, both small scale and commercial, is now banned in the santuary, which can be better protected by Ecuador's government. This provides local sharks a place to grow and mature and healthy areas for migratory sharks to visit.

Wolf and Darwin are regarded as the crown jewels of the Galapagos by visiting scuba divers. They boast an incredible amount of shark biomass with highlights like schooling hammerheads and feeding whalesharks. This is very impressive in an archipelago that is home to over 30 different shark species.

Much credit for the new marine sanctuary goes to National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence photographer Enric Salas, who has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the waters around the islands. Last month, he met with Ecuador's president Rafael Correa to discuss findings from a recent Nat Geo Pristine Seas expedition and demonstrate the need for more protection. 

Enric Tweeted a link to the video below earlier this morning:



You can join the Underwater Photography Guide to dive the Galapagos Islands later this year.  We have spaces on two different trips, each with 10 days of diving and extra time at Wolf and Darwin Islands!  More info below:

You can also take a look at UWPG Publisher Scott Gietler's Galapagos photos in '5 Amazing UW Photo Encounters in the Galapagos Islands'.



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