The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) was recently granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
In specific areas of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, you can dive or snorkel and come into contact with wonderful underwater species like: Whales, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, rays, manta rays, sword fish and turtles, etc.
The Galápagos Marine Reserve faces a number of environmental threats.
Overfishing and Illegal Fishing
• The legal local sea cucumber and lobster fisheries are heavily depleted and may be close to collapse.
• This poses serious consequences for the large fishing sector in Galápagos, who will likely turn to illegal practices, such as shark finning, overfishing of tuna, and illegal export of sea cucumbers.
Pollution and Development
These two elements pose an additional threat to both marine and terrestrial wildlife. The parallel growth of the tourism industry and local populations means this problem will surely increase. The population of Galápagos is growing at a rate of approximately 6% per year, more than double population growth of mainland Ecuador. The grounding of the tanker Jessica, delivering bunker fuel and diesel for tourist ships and the Ecuadorian Navy, brought attention from the world to the marine threats from increased human activities on the Islands.
Many international science and conservation organizations work to protect the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Among them are Wildaid and the Charles Darwin Foundation. WildAid is working to teach the staff of the Galapagos National Park to protect the reserve from overfishing and other threats.