News 2017-09-07T19:48:56+00:00

The information in this issue was obtained from various sources, all of which have extensive knowledge of Galapagos.

The latest and breaking news from Galapagos!

Fernandina Eruption Report

0.37°S, 91.55°W; summit elev. 1476 m

Most Recent Weekly Report: 30 August-5 September 2017

IG reported that increased seismicity at Fernandina was detected at around 0955 on 4 September. Based on accounts from Galapagos Park personnel and photos of the volcano, an eruption started at around 1225. The Washington VAAC reported that lava was detected in satellite images beginning at 1230; a steam-and-gas plume rose 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted almost 60 km W. At around 1428 IG noted that an eruptive plume was identified in satellite images rising 4 km above the crater and drifting NW. The VAAC reported that on 5 September a plume likely composed of sulfur dioxide and water vapor, and possibly some ash, rose to 2.4 km (8,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted SW. There are no residents on Fernandina.

Geologic Background. Fernandina, the most active of Galápagos volcanoes and the one closest to the Galápagos mantle plume, is a basaltic shield volcano with a deep 5 x 6.5 km summit caldera. The volcano displays the classic “overturned soup bowl” profile of Galápagos shield volcanoes. Its caldera is elongated in a NW-SE direction and formed during several episodes of collapse. Circumferential fissures surround the caldera and were instrumental in growth of the volcano. Reporting has been poor in this uninhabited western end of the archipelago, and even a 1981 eruption was not witnessed at the time. In 1968 the caldera floor dropped 350 m following a major explosive eruption. Subsequent eruptions, mostly from vents located on or near the caldera boundary faults, have produced lava flows inside the caldera as well as those in 1995 that reached the coast from a SW-flank vent. Collapse of a nearly 1 cu km section of the east caldera wall during an eruption in 1988 produced a debris-avalanche deposit that covered much of the caldera floor and absorbed the caldera lake.

Sources: Instituto Geofísico-Escuela Politécnica Nacional (IG), Washington Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)


The government of Ecuador has announced the creation of a new marine sanctuary around the islands of Darwin and Wolf in Galapagos that will offer protection to the world’s greatest concentration of sharks. The new sanctuary includes 15,000 square miles within
the existing Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR), wherein industrial fishing has been banned since 1998 but smaller fishing operations had been allowed. With the creation of this new sanctuary, several areas within the GMR will now be designated as “no-take” zones, meaning fishing of any kind is off-limits.

The government says that such additional protection is essential, as the habitat has come under increased pressure due to climate change and illegal shark fin poachers. From an economic perspective, a 2015 report found that sharks also have an immense value to tourism that greatly outweighs their value to the fishing industry. Tourists travel from all over the world to visit the Islands and dive to see the sharks, of which more than 34 different species can be found in these waters.

This new designation is the result of a dialogue initiated in 2014 that included input from more than 600 participants across various sectors in Galapagos, including the local fishing industry. The consensus leading to the designation of the new reserve means that 32% of the waters around Galapagos will now be protected from fishing activities.

By Galapagos Conservancy Inc.


Galapagos Scientists and Park Rangers need your help to monitor populations of marine species in the Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR).
Using the new app, Shark Count Galapagos, you can make important contributions to our understanding of Galapagos marine ecosystems by recording the number of sharks, sea turtles, rays and ocean sunfish you encounter during your dives. All data collected through Shark Count is shared with the Galapagos National Park Directorate.

As more and more data is collected, Shark Count will help decision makers better manage the GMR, and dive tourists will know when and where they are likely to observe different species. Shark Count Galapagos was developed by the Aquatic Biotelemetry Lab at the Universidad
San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF), Galapagos Conservancy (GC), and Upstream PBC, with support from the Galapagos National Park Directorate and funding from the Samuel Freeman Charitable Trust and other GC donors.

For more information, visit sharkcount.org.

By Universidad San Francisco – Quito, Galapagos Conservancy Inc & Charles Darwin Station.


For the third year in a row, Mangrove finches, the rarest of “Darwin’s finches,” were successfully captive-reared at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS). The Mangrove Finch

Project team, led by the CDRS and the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD), collected nests and young nestlings of the critically endangered Mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) in the wild at Playa Tortuga Negra on the west coast of Isabela Island in February for the 2016 head-starting program.

With an estimated population of only 80–100 individuals, inhabiting just 75 acres at two sites on western Isabela Island, all wild-hatched nestlings would have likely died in their natural habitat due to infestation by the introduced parasitic fly Philornis downsi. This year, weather conditions were dry
on western Isabela, so Mangrove finch breeding was slower with many territories having no nests at all. After eight weeks of successful rearing in the laboratory, fifteen fledglings were returned to their natural habitat at Playa Tortuga Negra in March. The birds will be monitored by scientists and park rangers to determine their initial survival.

By Charles Darwin Research Station and Galapagos National Park.