600 Gallon Oil Spill In The Galapagos Is ‘Under Control’

Over 600 gallons of oil is currently being contained off the coast of the Galapagos Islands after a cargo vessel was overturned this past Sunday morning, December 22nd. The ship was docked and being loaded with containers when it overturned and spilled the massive amounts of oil. The Galapagos are an extremely unique and important ecosystem on our planet. Charles Darwin first brought attention to the islands with his theory of evolution that exploited the island for its hundreds of species that are, as far as we know, exclusive to the Galapagos. 

Ever since its initial discovery scientists, conservationists, environmentalists, and research teams have worked together to protect the islands at all cost from human interference in order to further research the many rare qualities that the island possesses to be able to support such a diverse amount of species. 

As unique as the ecosystem on the Galapagos is, it’s also extremely fragile. As one of the only places on Earth that’s not permanently inhabited by humans, its survival is extremely important for environmentalists to study and learn from. A major long term goal for many researchers is to use the Galapagos as a model to improve other places on the planet currently suffering from the detrimental effects of climate change.

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On Sunday Morning a large shipping container holding cylinders of oil was being loaded onto a cargo vessel via crane. The crane ended up falling over and succumbing to the weight of the container, causing both to fall directly onto the vessel’s dock. Once the crane and container fell over the vessel capsized, causing the workers on the ship to jump; luckily, no one was harmed during the whole ordeal. 

The Galapagos are technically a part of Ecuador, despite being located hundreds of miles from the coast. Luckily, the Ecuadorian Coast Guard has certain emergency protocols when situations like this occur.

“Galapagos National Park authorities and the Ecuadorian Navy implemented emergency measures to contain the spill, setting up protective barriers and oil absorbent clothes around the oil patch. The situation is under control, and a series of actions have been deployed to mitigate the possible effects,” the Ecuadorian presidential communications office said in a statement.

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The incident happened at a dock located on San Cristobal Island, which is the easternmost of all the islands that make up the Galapagos. The island is also known for inhabiting some of the most recognizable species to the islands such as ring-tailed lemurs, giant tortoises, and of course, finches. 

The emergency plan to contain the oil spill has been successful so far, however, some of the damage had already been done. Photos from the scene have begun circulating around the internet, causing people to compare it to the devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While this spill wasn’t nearly as damaging, and was able to be contained in a quick and organized matter, conservationists are raising their voices against yet another man-made operation that’s destroying the planet. 

SOS Galapagos is an online advocacy group who has been speaking up against the damaging operations occurring on the islands that are only further harming our planet. They were one of the first groups to post pictures of the oil spill, claiming that it was a result of “illegal and dangerous” operations. The group is also, in general, based on the claim that over-tourism is destroying many ecosystems within the island. While individuals can’t stay on the island, there are many tourist attractions that allow people to sail to the island and get a glance at all the unique wildlife within it. After Sunday, SOS Galapagos and conservationist groups everywhere are calling on the public to leave the island alone to prevent even further spills/damage.