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GALAPAGOS TODAY  (Blog)

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My blog includes News about Galapagos & Ecuador, the Islands, an eclectic mix of articles sourced from the Hospitality Industry, Sustainable Management & Development, Environmental Conservation, “Eco & Green” topics, Science & Technology and other interesting and whimsical “stuff” I discover while browsing the net.

Thank you

Rene Heyer

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Galapagos : How Darwin’s Finches Keep Their Species Separate

The shifting songs of Darwin’s finches have given new insight into processes that shape the course of evolution, preventing newly forked branches on life’s tree from growing back together.

Even though it’s biologically possible for Geospiza fortis and Geospiza scandens — the original residents of the Galapagos island of Daphne Major — to interbreed with newly arrived Geospiza magnirostris, the species have stayed separate.

The birds learned to sing new tunes, setting off a behavioral cascade that swept the island in just a few decades: Evolution in action, audible to the naked ear.

The findings, published October 31 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, “throw light on what happens at a crucial stage in speciation,” wrote Princeton biologists Rosemary and Peter Grant.

Since the late 1970s, the Grants have worked on Daphne Major, studying descendants of some of the same finches that inspired Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theories.

Read More http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/11/darwin-finch-speciation/#ixzz14GxrEptd

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Galapagos Preservation Society

Link…

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The Galapagos K-9 Police Unit Detects Wildlife Crime

Source…Sea Shepherd News

En Español

Can WillyThe K-9 unit of the Ecuadorian Environmental Police recently prevented an illegal exportation of two marine iguanas, an emblematic species of the Galapagos archipelago that has been protected since 1959.

On September 30, 2010, the Police were conducting a routine inspection of cargo and luggage at the Galapagos airport in Baltra, Ecuador. Willy, one of the dogs of the K-9 unit, identified a cardboard box containing two marine iguanas. The box had been abandoned by its owner. The iguanas were hidden in a compartment of the box. Both iguanas were improperly stored, but fortunately, they were still alive. The body of a deceased baby sea turtle was also found in the box. After the police inspection, the marine iguanas were delivered to the authorities of the Galapagos National Park.

According to the police report, witnesses only provided a general description of the suspected owner of the box. Since the box had been abandoned, the Police were unable to locate the suspect. An investigation has been opened to that end.

Iguana caja Iguana envuelta papel

While the perpetrator has not yet been identified, this case shows that the mere presence of the K-9 unit at the Galapagos airport was effectively able to frustrate and prevent a wildlife crime. According to Galapagos special legislation and the Penal Code of Ecuador, the non-authorized collection and/or mobilization of wildlife, including its exportation from the islands, is a penal infraction sanctioned with imprisonment.

shark finsThis operation came a day after another important finding of six shark fins stored in the ceiling of a house in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. Sharks are also protected species in Galapagos. The shark fins were found as the result of an inspection conducted by another K-9 unit. This case is also currently under investigation to determine judicial responsibilities.

The K-9 unit of the Ecuadorian Environmental Police is supported by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. It is a pioneer unit in Ecuador, and in the region. In the past few years since its inception, the K-9 unit has proven to be instrumental in the fight against wildlife crimes in Galapagos. The dogs are trained to detect wildlife, including shark fins and sea cucumbers, and to prevent their illegal exportation. The K-9 unit operates the three inhabited islands of Galapagos under the command of specialized police officers.

Click here for more information on the K-9 unit.

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World War Two bombs found on Galapagos Islands

27 Oct 2010 01:32:07 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Fishermen discover a dozen buried devices
* Official say they pose no threat to public
QUITO, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Fishermen have found a dozen bombs believed to be from World War Two buried on the Galapagos Islands, a local government official said on Tuesday. The bombs were found on Bartolome Island, one of the Galapagos group located about 600 miles (966 km) off South America’s northwestern coast. The islands are a province of Ecuador, which let the United States set up a military base on one, Baltra Island, during World War Two due to its strategic location southwest of the Panama Canal. Luis Martinez, chief of operations for Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island, told Reuters that the bombs posed no danger to the public but that the Ecuadorean navy had been informed as a precaution. “This military equipment that was found dates from the Second World War and was buried. It was not in sight of the beaches, nor close to them,” Martinez said. He said the authorities were considering making a more thorough search of the area on Bartolome Island in case there were any other wartime explosives to unearth. The volcanic Galapagos Islands are visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world every year thanks to their vast array of native species, many of which are endangered. British naturalist Charles Darwin developed his evolution theory in the 19th century after studying the wildlife there. (Reporting by Santiago Silva; Writing by Daniel Wallis; editing by Jim Marshall)
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Smithsonian researchers find differences between Galapagos and mainland frigatebirds

Great_Frigatebird_at_Genovesa

Although the magnificent frigatebird may be the least likely animal on the Galapagos Islands to be unique to the area, it turns out the Galapagos population of this tropical seabird may be its own genetically distinct species warranting a new conservation status, according to a paper by researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the University of Missouri-St. Louis published last week in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

The Galapagos Islands, which once served as a scientific laboratory for Charles Darwin, boast a number of unique plant and animal species, from tortoises to iguanas to penguins. Magnificent frigatebirds, however, can fly hundreds of kilometers across open ocean, suggesting that their gene flow should be widespread and their genetic make-up should be identical to those of the magnificent frigatebirds on the mainland coast of the Americas. Even Darwin predicted that most Galapagos seabirds would not be very different from their mainland counterparts. But researchers at SCBI conducted three different kinds of genetics tests and all yielded the same result—the Galapagos seabirds have been genetically different from the magnificent frigatebirds elsewhere for more than half a million years.

For More Go To Source…Eurekalert

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Sailing the Galapagos Islands in style

(CNN) — With its Giant Tortoises, fearless Sea Lions, colorful crabs and endless other vivid and unusual species, the Galapagos Islands maintain an almost mythical status among the world’s must-see natural wonders.

And if you’re fortunate enough to find yourself in this remote archipelago in the east Pacific, then experiencing it from the deck of a yacht is almost certainly the best way to go.

It is not, however, an easy destination for yachts to reach, given its isolation far off the coast of Ecuador, and the stiff regulations with which visiting boats, crew and guests must comply.

For More check Source…CNN

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Galapagos : Deep in Ecuador’s Rainforest, a Plan to Forego an Oil Bonanza

0°00’00” Latitude South…

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Galapagos Penguins and Global Warming = Extinction

Galapagos Penguins Face Extinction as Sea Temperatures Rise Worldwide

The Global Climate change has been a hot topic since the release of Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth.  Debates have swirled regarding the cause, yet it is undeniable that weather patterns have changed and we are seeing more extreme weather – both Japan and New York saw their hottest summers on record.  The climate change has been touted as the cause from flooding in Pakistan to crop failure in China.  Yet one of the smallest and most adorable victims of global warming are Galapagos Penguins.

The Galapagos Penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) is the most northerly occurring of all the penguins. Endemic to the Galapagos Islands at approximately 14 inches in height it is smaller and more duck-like than its southern cousins of the Antarctic. Adult penguins have a bluish-black head, back and flippers when new. Older worn feathers, dull to a brown color. Their underside is white with the exception of a black line along the side and scatter feathers on the chest.

During years with the El Nino effect the warming of the sea surface temperature effectively blocks the cold water currents from coming up the coast of South America.  With the lack of these currents, the Penguins food supplies are drastically reduced and Galapagos Penguins postpone breeding entirely to avoid starvation.  During the 1982-1983 El Nino 77% of the Galapagos Penguins died of starvation.

For More Go To Source at Galapagosonline…

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Summit to Consider New Ecotourism Model for Galapagos Islands

QUITO – The Ecuadorian government has inaugurated the first Sustainable Tourism Summit, a gathering in which participants will discuss a new ecotourism development model for the Galapagos Islands.

Environment Minister Marcela Aguiñaga said representatives of several public institutions are meeting with the shared belief that economic growth is merely one factor in true sustainable development and the idea that profitability encompasses more than economic gain.

She said tourism has become Galapagos’ “primary economic activity” and the basis not only for the well-being of local inhabitants but also the health of its ecosystems and the management of its natural resources.

But the minister noted that “few could have predicted that this most environmentally friendly of economic activities would become one of the main threats to the health and integrity of Galapagos’ ecosystems,” Aguiñaga said in her inauguration speech, to which Efe had access.

Without offering definite figures, she added that while there has been a reduction in the number of visitors this year “average annual growth has held steady at 7 percent, which means Galapagos at the moment is home to Ecuador’s healthiest economy.”

She added, however, that those statistics do not mean the local community and nature are equally as healthy.

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