April 12, 2012 § 1 Comment
Living Galapagos the project from the journalism school at UNC Chapel Hill has released a number of trailers from their work in the Galapagos Islands. The films feature a number of different subjects and do a remarkable job telling the story of the people who make the Galapagos their home.
The site and full versions of the videos are scheduled to be released in early May currently the videos and blog posts can be seen at Livinggalapagos.org
April 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Ecuadorian Airline SAERO S.A. has announced they are to begin inter-islands service within the Galapagos Islands. There are currently three airports in the Galapagos the largest on the island of Baltra, one on the island of San Cristobal and a third which is exclusively used for inter-island flights on the island of Isabela. Travel between these islands is currently limited to either a fiberglass speed boat or EMETEBEE airlines which operates 7 and 9 passenger Britten-Norman 2 Islander planes.
SAERO which currently offers flights within Ecuador and to the beaches of Northern Peru has a fleet that includes a Turbo Commander 840, Helicopter, BeechCraft 1900 Embraer 120 and Leer Jet. SAERO’s entry into the Galapagos inter-island market will make more options available and it more convenient for travelers who wish to travel between the islands by plane.
April 10, 2012 § Leave a comment
LAN has released a new destination within the South American Airpass program: Colombia. Passengers may, through LAN.com, select a flight of entry into the continent, to design an itinerary of at least three destinations in the region and take advantage of rates of the company, and now has chosen Colombia between their countries.
Colombia has become the eighth largest network of destinations available in the South American Airpass. Bogota, Cali, Cartagena or San Andres Island are already available to the traveler with the South American Airpass.
LAN continues offering, under the South American Airpass, his classic “recommended circuits” which proposed routes for all tastes:
– “Galapagos and Machu Picchu.” Quito-Galapagos-Islands-Guayaquil-Lima-Cusco.
– “Inca Trail and Lake Titicaca.” Lima-Cuzco-Juliaca-Lima.
– “Wonders of South America.” Lima-Cusco-Lima-Iguazu Falls-Lima.
– “Urban America.” Quito-Lima-Buenos Aires-Santiago de Chile.
– “Cultures enigmatic.” Santiago-Easter Island-Santiago-Calama-Santiago de Chile.
-“Food and wine”. Lima-Buenos Aires-Mendoza-Santiago de Chile.
The company offers users the best South American Airpass travel conditions, allowing earn 100% of the mileage in their frequent flyer program LANPASS and applying the more lenient baggage rate of transoceanic flights.
March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
Protests in Ecuador yesterday shut down the capital city of Quito while indigenous protested the governments signing of new mining contracts. The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world. As the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the Americas, one in 10 species in the world can be found within the Amazon Basin.
This area is also home to a number of indigenous groups, including groups within the Brazilian Amazon which have remained without contact from the outside world. For decades the Amazon Region has also been exploited for its wealth of natural resources including deforestation, oil production, and mining operations.
Environmentalists are concerned about loss of biodiversity that will result from destruction of the forest, and also about the release of the carbon contained within the vegetation, which could accelerate global warming. As regions within the Amazon Basin continue to succumb to eco-side the many of the indigenous groups from the area have become the voice for the Amazon through community based conservation efforts.
March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
Larry Stack, 51, knew something was wrong as he ascended a mountain on a recent climbing trip to Quito, Ecuador.
“I had had shortness of breath on trips before, but this was different,” said Stack, who is a physician. “I developed a headache, and felt like I was going to pass out.”
Stack’s experience during his rapid ascent may be a familiar hazard to many of the millions of Americans who trek up the side of a mountain each year. He was experiencing acute mountain sickness. Commonly referred to as altitude sickness, it is a serious condition — and in its worst form, it is potentially deadly.
Now, new research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine suggests that those who climb may do well to add a bottle of ibuprofen, a common anti-inflammatory painkiller, to their hiking packs.
Ibuprofen is available over the counter and is perhaps most widely known by the brand names Advil and Motrin — although it is available in numerous other formulations as well.
Study author Dr. Grant Lipman, an emergency medicine physician at Stanford University, first noted a decrease in the symptoms of acute mountain sickness — dizziness, fatigue, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting — while researching a previous group of study participants at high altitude.
“We saw that ibuprofen helped headache and, as a secondary finding, decreased the symptoms of acute mountain sickness,” Lipman said.
He then tested this hypothesis using 86 volunteers. Each was given either ibuprofen or a placebo pill just before a summer climb in the White Mountains of California. Lipman’s group found that those hikers taking ibuprofen were three times less likely to develop altitude sickness than those who took the dummy pill.
Currently, there are two commonly used treatments for altitude sickness, and both require a trip to the doctor’s office for a prescription. Dexamethasone, a steroid, and acetazolamide, a diuretic or “water pill,” both have significant side effects.
During his experience with altitude sickness, Stack took acetazolamide, but he did not like the side effects, which included excessive urination and a “weird taste.” His altitude sickness sent him to a local emergency room where he had an extensive workup — a CT scan, X-rays and an evaluation by a heart doctor. After several days, his symptoms resolved, but the current study suggests that taking ibuprofen could have helped him avoid these problems in the first place.
However, more studies may be needed to convince some physicians that this inexpensive, easy-to-administer pill should change the way they advise mountain climbers.
“Based on just one study, I’d be hesitant to recommend the use of ibuprofen for those at risk of acute mountain sickness, but I admit if I were traveling to the mountains, I’d be sure to have a supply of ibuprofen in my carry-on bag,” said Dr. Richard O’Brien, an emergency physician at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa.
If one thing is certain, it is that those who experience these symptoms should seek help — and quickly. Emergency physicians said acute mountain sickness, if not treated, could lead to breathing problems, brain swelling, and death. Descending to a lower altitude at the first sign of distress is crucial.
“Unfortunately, every year there are climbers who die of high altitude cerebral edema [brain swelling] who took medications and pushed ahead on their ascent, instead of recognizing and acknowledging their symptoms and descending while they still had the opportunity,” said Dr. Gabe Wilson, associate medical director at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital’s emergency department.
We highly recommend discussing any treatments or ailments you may have with your physician prior to traveling
March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
by Libby Zay
First popularized by President Theadore Roosevelt and worn by countless travelers ever since, the Panama hat has become a symbol of coastal and tropical locales. Nothing screams I’m on vacation somewhere warm! quite like the straw hat, which is known for being breathable and able to return to its original shape after being folded in a suitcase. But what is not as well known is that Panama hats don’t actually come from their namesake country. The hats actually originated in Ecuador, but were mistakenly called Panama hats because they were shipped through the Isthmus of Panama before making it to locations across the rest of the Americas, Europe and Asia.
Panama hats are still made throughout Ecuador, where Ecuadorians call the hats sombreros de paja toquilla (or “hats of toquilla straw”). Anyone selling the hats at markets or in shopping malls, however, is well aware that tourists often ask for them by the name “Panama hat.” Several towns are famous for the production of the hats, including the small town of Sigsig in the Andes Mountains near the colonial city of Cuenca. It is possible to take an hour-long bus ride from Cuenca to Sigsig to visit a Panama hat company owned and operated by indigenous Ecuadorians who work directly with wholesalers. There, you can see women with amazingly nimble fingers as they weave the hats. Remarkably, each hat takes a single weaver several days to make. While there, you can get a good deal on a hat of your own or purchase other items made out of straw — including bowls, boxes and coasters — from a small company store. There’s also a nice photo op in front of a giant Panama hat in the courtyard of the warehouse.
March 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Galapagos Diving aboard the Humboldt Explorer April 23 – 30 for $1000 off! Dive with hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, sea turtles, giant mantas and more at some of the best dive sites in the world including Wolf and Darwin.
The Humboldt Explorer is the first in a new generation of dive boats in Galapagos. Spacious and comfortable with modern decor and excellent amenities. All cabins can either have two twin beds or a large single bed depending on the traveler’s needs. There is a partially covered sundeck with Jacuzzi and ample seating areas, a salon including a lounge area, a spacious dive deck with a large camera table are just some of the features.
The special offer is valid for the cruise April 23 – 30 and is $1000 off the regular $3995 low season rate. Space is extremely limited.
March 13, 2012 § 1 Comment
“Living Galapagos: The impact of man in the Galapagos Islands” is a student-authored multimedia website intended to become the primary source for Galapagos multimedia, containing a mix of science and human interest content and presented to multiple audiences worldwide for education, awareness and entertainment.
Based off the 2009 JOMC project www.livinggalapagos.org, the new site will have annual editions, presenting a mix of science and human interest content in an engaging way for viewers in the U.S., Ecuador and worldwide. It will also provide bilingual educational resources.
The annual class will learn about the islands and then travel there to produce stories with documentary video, animated information graphics, data visualization, 3-D modeling immersive media text and more. The project will have a searchable database of content, showing change on the islands over time.
“Living Galapagos” will be produced by JOMC with support from centers and institutes at UNC and University San Francisco de Quito (USFQ,) including the Center for Galapagos Studies, RENCI, the Water Institute, the Center for Global Initiatives, The Research Institute, the Institute for the Environment, and the Galapagos Institute of Arts and Sciences.
Twelve percent of marine species in tropical eastern Pacific threatened Twelve percent of marine species in tropical eastern Pacific threatened
February 24, 2012 § 1 Comment
Twelve percent of marine species surveyed in the Gulf of California, the coasts of Panama and Costa Rica and the five offshore oceanic islands and archipelagos in the tropical eastern Pacific are threatened with extinction, according to a study by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and its partners. Main threats to the region’s marine flora and fauna include over-fishing, habitat loss and increasing impacts from the El Nino Southern Oscillation.
Released this week, the study is the first IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™ assessment available for all known species of marine shore-fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, sea birds, corals, mangroves and seagrasses in a major marine biogeographic region. The analysis identifies specific geographic zones where conservation efforts are needed most, including around the mouth of the Gulf of California and the coastlines of Panama and Costa Rica, while also identifying the nature and location of the greatest dangers to marine life.
“Understanding species vulnerability to major threats is paramount for determining how species and marine environments are likely to respond to one or more simultaneous threats,” says Beth Polidoro, Research Associate, IUCN Marine Biodiversity Unit, and lead author of the study. “Identification of threatened species and patterns of threat in the tropical eastern Pacific region can help guide local and regional marine conservation priorities for biodiversity conservation, as well as serve to inform policy.”
In recent years, at least 20 marine species have gone extinct around the world, and more than 133 local populations of marine species have suffered a similar fate. These include the disappearance of the endemic Galapagos Damselfish (Azurina eupalama) during the events of El Niño from 1982-1983. Drastic declines have also been documented across several marine groups, including many populations of commercial fish, coral reef fish, reef-building corals, mangroves, and seagrasses. Two commercial marine fish, the Totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) and the Giant Sea Bass (Stereolepis gigas) are listed as Critically Endangered, and were once common in the waters of southern California and the Gulf of California, Mexico. Both species are extremely desirable for human consumption but have limited ability to cope with severe over-fishing because they have long life spans and the large groups they form when spawning are often targeted by fishers—reducing the chances of rebuilding sustainable populations.
“Saving threatened species is the single most important thing we can do to safeguard ocean health, which benefits millions of people that depend on thriving and productive oceans,” says Scott Henderson, Regional Director of Marine Conservation at Conservation International and co-author of the study. “This new study is a monumental scientific effort which gives governments and support organizations the information needed to focus conservation dollars on the species, places and problems that need help the most.”
The findings reinforce that conservation action is needed for both marine species and the geographic areas where they are most threatened. For example, the creation of a marine protected area around Clipperton Island in the eastern Pacific Ocean should be a high priority, as it has one of the highest proportions of threatened species in the tropical eastern Pacific, and is the only one of the five oceanic islands and archipelagos in the region that lacks complete governmental protection. Legislation to limit mangrove removal from important fishery nursing grounds along the coasts of Costa Rica and Panama is also vital, according to the study. Additionally, better data collection, reporting and monitoring for both targeted and by-catch fisheries species should be an urgent priority for the improvement of marine conservation efforts throughout the region.
“There are tangible steps that we can take to curtail the risk of extinction of species in the tropical eastern Pacific,” says Tom Brooks, NatureServe’s Chief Scientist. “For example, for the few fishery species that are threatened, we must work towards better management on both local and regional scales. We can make a difference, but first we must collect and use the valuable data available.”
February 16, 2012 § Leave a comment
Great last minute dive special on the Deep Blue March 19 – 26, 2012 on $2999 per person – $1000 off the low season rate
PM: Arrival to San Cristobal – lunch and check out dive at Isla Lobos
AM: 2 Dives Punta Carrion
PM: Santa Cruz Highlands
AM: 2 Dives Cousins
PM: Charles Darwin Research Station
AM: Interpretation Center & departure from San Cristobal
Space is limited