Galapagos Marine Reserve - A Colorful Underwater Wonderland
Beneath the calm surface, where the warm Panama Current meets the colder Humbolt and Cromwell currents, lies a unique and extremely diverse ecological system filled with fascinating marine life. Within this 133 000 square kilometer area, which is known as the Galapagos Marine Reserve, warm blooded and cold blooded inhabitants of the ocean enjoy a peaceful and protected existence. The need to protect this area was realized in 1990’s, as the marine life was being threatened by the unlimited and unlawful fishing methods that were being used. This endangered many species that call the coastline of Galapagos home. In 2001 this rare and amazing open water reserve was declared a World Heritage Site. The harvesting of sea cucumbers in areas surrounding the Galapagos Islands caught the attention of authorities, as hundreds were taken from the ocean for resale to Asian markets. Authorities recognized the need to protect all marine life and, in doing so, established the Galapagos Marine Reserve 1998.
The astonishing marine life that is found in the waters surrounding the Galapagos Islands includes hammerhead sharks, sword-fish, whale sharks, manta rays, leopard rays and whales. The turtles that frequent these waters, often found themselves injured or caught by fishing nets in the past. Before the marine reserve was founded, sharks were the targets of fishermen that hunted them exclusively for their fins. After the fins were removed, that rest of the shark was disposed of and this inhumane and uncontrolled fishing was depleting the predator population. Not only do they play an important role in the ecological system, but they are a huge attraction for tourists and divers. The large range of ocean life of Galapagos can be attributed to their location and surroundings. These waters have beautiful beaches, lagoons, endless rock sea beds, coral reefs, high cliffs and mangroves. All this attracts other marine animals, such as Marine Iguana, Waved Albatross, Sea Lions, Galapagos Penguins and Fur Seals. The spectacular festival of vibrantly colored fish is also a great attraction to divers.
With approximately 3 000 different species of marine and plant life at the Galapagos Marine Reserve, it is definitely one of the most popular attractions in Ecuador. The protection of the marine reserve is supported by the WildAid Foundation and the Charles Darwin Foundation. Tourist that are seeking an exciting adventure and who want to explore one of the most incomparable attractions in Ecuador can book boat cruises to experience the beautiful and wide variety of marine life that is waiting at the Galapagos Marine Reserve.