Las Fiestas de Santa Cruz – Tortuga Bay

January 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Fiesta at Tortuga Bay

CONSERVE TORTUGA BAY

The Galapagos Islands are known as a modern day Garden of Eden, a Mecca for scientists, conservationists, and nature lovers from around the world. The islands and the surrounding waters are highly regulated in order to preserve the natural wonders native to the islands.

In the early part of the 20th century settlers came to the Galapagos and set up small villages.  Life on the island was remote and not easy.  Each year, the few families that lived on Santa Cruz would gather together and have a celebration this celebration became the Fiestas del Galapagos. As the population of Santa Cruz grew so did the Fiesta, and as more hotels were built the Fiesta became a destination party for people from the continent.  In recent years the Fiestas del Galapagos has become a week of parties, parades, various contests all of which culminate in a huge final festival held at Tortuga Bay.

Tortuga BayFor those of you who have never been to Tortuga Bay, it is a beautiful white sand beach located approximately a 30 – 40 minute walk outside of Puerto Ayora.  The beach is a nesting site of sea turtles and marine iguanas.  There are ghost crabs, brown pelicans, Darwin Finch white tipped reef sharks and rays. On most days you can walk out to Tortuga Bay you may come across local surfers or boogie boarders enjoying the waves found here.  If you walk across the beach you’ll see marine iguanas heading out to sea, or ghost crabs making a quick dart back into their sandy home.  Arriving at the second bay you may find families enjoying a day at the beach or random visitors snorkeling along the water’s edge.

The peaceful idyllic scene that is normally Tortuga Bay is shattered on the Fiesta de Galapagos in Santa Cruz.  The whole of Puerto Ayora moves to Tortuga Bay for the day.  Stages are set up with blasting music, bikini contests, beer stands every few feet and thousands upon thousands of locals all arrive to party the day.  The party itself seems more like Cancun than Galapagos.  In many the party at Tortuga Bay seems to defy the very nature of Galapagos.

While I enjoy a party as much as the next person – the Fiesta del Santa Cruz at Tortuga Bay raises concerns.  A group of local people have started a petition to try to get the local government to change the site of the party to a less environmentally sensitive area.

“What do we celebrate in this party in the Galapagos? Originally, this party consisted of a family event for the privileged permanent residents of the Galapagos. However, during the last years, this party has turned into a massive event, which draws thousands of people that consume alcohol and produce trash and other environmental impacts. We consider that this type of event should not take place in a National Park, because it creates negative impacts such as trash generation, acoustic pollution, harm to the habitats, and the unwanted movement of animals. We suggest that other type of events should take place in this beach, with activities in concordance with this area so important for the nesting of protected species and where the relation to its natural settings is a priority. The native and endemic species cannot adapt to the accelerating rhythm of change to which we are putting them under. Let us sign this petition and promote the celebration with REVERENCE to this World Natural Heritage Site of which we all are responsible to preserve.”

If you share our concern for the Galapagos Islands and Tortuga Bay we encourage you to visit the facebook page to stop the party.

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