These tour guides in the Galapagos Islands have encountered a tragic situation in the remote waters near San Cristobal Island. They spotted jugs, floats, flags, and other debris floating on the surface. They had been working on the Galapagos Sky, a liveaboard tour operation that helps environmentally responsible adventures discover the wonder and beauty of the Galapagos Islands. They love the ocean, and they love teaching those who come here to connect with nature, all about how to help preserve the fragile balance that exists beneath the waves.
Members of the crew left the ship in a small dinghy, or panga, and headed out to collect the debris. They were horrified to find that it was a long line and netting that had been left adrift. More than 15 large sharks and billfish had been caught and were dead or dying. Over several hours, they worked tirelessly to pull in the lines and netting to free the creatures that could be saved. Sadly, only two sharks survived.
The use of illegal longlines and nets is increasing in the Galapagos Islands. Many ships from other countries are appearing, in violation of international law and conservation agreements, and the over harvesting of animals is taking a devastating toll on the health of the waters here. Many ships shut off their navigation systems in order to avoid detection by authorities. Officials from other nations claim that they are unaware of the practices and locations of their fishing fleets. The illegal activity goes unpunished when governments pretend to be oblivious.
The crew of the Galapagos Sky, and the residents of the Galapagos Islands have a special love of nature. Their respect for the delicate balance is unmatched and they are committed to sustaining the populations of all animals here. To see such abuse is heart breaking for them.
These tour guides pulled lines in and cut hooks from the mouths of Galapagos sharks, hammerheads, and billfish, also known as sailfish or marlin. They watched the lifeless bodies of the majestic fish floating and they held back tears as they worked in disbelief. The ocean creatures will not remain if longlines and nets continue to be used. What is equally tragic is that these fish were completely wasted in what appears to be abandoned fishing gear. Ships will often flee without even collecting their catch, in order to avoid detection and enforcement. Abandoned lines can affect animals for months or years if they are not removed from the water.
The Galapagos Islands and the surrounding waters are some of the most beautiful and important area of our planet. To allow this devastation and waste to continue here would be beyond tragic.