The waters around the Galapagos islands, a hotspot of biodiversity off the coast of Ecuador, have been invaded by more alien species than previously thought. While the number of invasive species on land across the World Heritage Site are well-documented, relatively little was known about those in the marine environment. Now field surveys have found 48 invasive species off the coasts of the islands, in addition to five known non-native species. The organisms most likely hitched a ride on ships from around the world. These surveys were undertaken only in certain habitats around two of the larger islands, so the actual number of invasive species is likely to be much greater.
Drones are helping conservationists rid one Galapagos island of an infestation of rats threatening indigenous birds. The drones have dropped poison on more than half of North Seymour Island in a bid to kill off the invasive species. The island's rare birds nest on the ground and their numbers are being depleted by the rodent invasion. The drones work much faster and more cheaply than helicopters which have been used in similar rat eradication projects elsewhere. The infestation of brown and black rats was discovered in early 2018 and prompted action by NGO Island Conservation and the Galapagos' Ministry of the Environment to rid the territory of the pest.
After Charles Darwin boarded the H.M.S. Beagle in 1831, the 90-foot ship visited 15 disparate lands -- the likes of Brazil, the Canary Islands, and Chile -- before eventually anchoring in the Galápagos Islands, four years later. For 500 years, in fact, ships from thousands of miles away landed in Galápagos, unwittingly carrying along seeds, insects, and critters picked up from around the globe. But new research, published Thursday in the journal Aquatic Invasions, shows that off the shore, the Galápagos waters are also alive with non-native, invasive species. By scouring just two areas off of two islands (there are 13 major islands), researchers discovered 48 non-native marine species -- 10 times more than previously known. "While the land invasion is understood and often well-accepted, just a couple of steps away into the water there's a sense that everything is native," said James Carlton, a professor emeritus of marine sciences at Williams College who lead the research.
Plastic pollution has reached Charles Darwin's Galapagos Islands and now seals on the remote archipelago have been spotted using bottles as toys. Even the Galapagos finches, named after the great English naturalist, are tragically lining their nests with plastic fibres. Tonnes of plastic are washing up on the protected shores of the islands, even though 97 per cent of the archipelago is off-limits to humans, according to community groups and scientists. In light of this, a new research project between local experts and international researchers has been launched to analyse how to hold back the tide of rubbish. Plastic pollution has reached Charles Darwin's Galapagos Islands and now seals on the remote archipelago have been captured using bottles as toys (pictured) Marine specialists from the University of Exeter are surveying currents and tide patterns to work out where the plastic is coming from, according to an exclusive report by ITV.