Check out the new video created by the Witman Lab on marine communities of Easter Island!
The Galapagos Islands are home to a permanent human population of ~25,000 Ecuadorians, and receives upwards of 220,000 visitors per year. This human presence necessitates constant replenishment of food, gasoline, drinking water, construction equipment, and many other supplies to maintain a modern existence. This need is fulfilled by 5 cargo tankers that circulate between the islands and the Ecuadorian mainland, bringing supplies every few weeks. In the past year, 4 of the 5 cargo ships have either sank, ran aground, or been otherwise severely damaged. The most recent, the freighter "Floreana", ran aground on the shallow shoals of Naufragio Bay off of San Cristobal Island. The threat of marine contamination from fuel, oil, and cargo has prompted the Ecuadorian government to declare a state of emergency:
Our colleagues and friends in the islands are also suffering a major shortage of necessary food and supplies as too few cargo ships remain to sustain the elevated demand in the islands. It reminds us how tenuous and potentially unsustainable the level of human presence and consumption is in the Galapagos.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department faculty Heather Leslie, also Peggy and Henry D. Sharpe assistant professor of environmental science at Brown University, was recently named a Leopold Leadership Fellow. This is an immense achievement and we applaud Heather on her ongoing success and efforts to integrate sound ecological science into marine management and policy.
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