Galapagos under Tsunami Alert

March 11, 2011 § 21 Comments

In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa declared a state of emergency on Friday and ordered people on the Galapagos Islands and the coast of the mainland to seek higher ground. The Galapagos, about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) offshore in the Pacific Ocean, has 19 islands and 42 islets. About 15,000 Ecuadorians legally live there, working in fishing or tourism.  It is predicted that the wave would arrive in the islands at 5 pm.

A similar alert was raised last February after an 8.8 earthquake hit Chile. As a precautionary measure the residents of the islands and visitors on the islands we evacuated from the coastal areas and remained in the highlands until after the alert was canceled. Galapagos Cruises were moved to deeper water further from land and all dive activities were canceled for the day.

Officials do not predict any damage but precautions are being taken to insure everyone’s safety.

UPDATE: TAME and Aerogal have announced they canceling all flight in and out of Galapagos for today

UPDATE 8:42am:  The Governor of the Galapagos has just announced mandatory evacuations of the coastal area of Galapagos.  Everyone has been ordered to the highlands of the islands.  Local fisherman have been ordered to port.   All tourist activity has been canceled as a safety precaution.  All ports have been closed.

UPDATE 9:16am: The marine authorities and national park have announced all tourist activities are canceled until further notice.  Passengers on board boats are to remain on board.  All boats have been ordered to go out to sea to areas at minimum of 100 meters in depth.  Any boats scheduled to be in port today have been ordered to have all passengers to remain on board and to depart port for deeper waters.  //  All remains calm with orderly and coordinated evacuations in place.

UPDATE 1:38PM: On San Cristobal the Emergency Operations Committee has declared all those on the island to head in an orderly fashion to El Progresso. People are heading to the highlands with clothing and food. Once in the highlands, they are not being permitted to return to the coast.

On the Island of Santa Cruz the people and the wildlife at the Charles Darwin Research Station including Lonesome George are being evacuated in a calm manner for the Bellavista (elevation 1000 meters) and Santa Rosa area where they are to remain until the Tsunami Warning passes.

Wardens Evacuating Lonesome George to Higher Ground

UPDATE 4:46pm: Current conditions in Santa Cruz are similar to that of a big storm

UPDATE 5:56PM: Local reports in the Galapagos state the sea has retreated –

UPDATE 6:42pm: Reports of waves 2.5 meters reaching Galapagos – Santa Cruz reports no problems

UPDATE 6:54pm: The president of Ecuador was just on television to say there have been no reports of problems. He has asked to wait an hour for the waves to pass and they will give the all clear.

UPDATE 7:05pm: Reports from Santa Cruz state the sea is changing by 5 feet per 2 minutes

UPDATE 7:09pm: Reports from San Cristobal state the sea has retreated 30 meters then came back. Concerns are for San Cristobal and Isabela which are at sea level. The waves seem to have missed Santa Cruz. There has been no news from Isabela however the population was to evacuate to CampoDuro where phone reception is minimal.

UPDATE SAT 7:33AM: The Galapagos experienced minor flooding along the coast. Which effected the urban areas of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno and Puerto Ayora. Waves up to 2 meters high and surges up to 500 feet were reported. Water entered some homes, businesses and hotels. Residents remained in the highlands for over 5 hours waiting to be given the all clear to return home. Flights have returned to normal today and as has tourism activity. There are no reports of any deaths or injuries due to the Tsunami. We congratulate the local authorities on their concentrated efforts in making sure everyone including Lonesome George and the other animals at the Darwin Station – thank you – good job!!!

UPDATE 11:30AM: The first flights have arrived in the Galapagos. People on board cruises are continuing actives as normal. Reports of significant damage to buildings in Santa Cruz and San Cristobal including the Banco Pacifico in Puerto Ayora. The Finch Bay Resort has relocated all guests for a minimum of the next 3 days while making repairs. The power is back on in Santa Cruz.

UPDATE 11:31AM: Reports from Isabela the Tsunami waves past by Puerto Villamil all is safe and sound.

The visitor sites closest to the populated areas were not seriously affected by the waves and will remain open to visitors.

The Giant Tortoise Breeding Center and the dock of the Galapagos National Park Service in Santa Cruz will remain closed because of damage caused by the waves. The tortoises from the Breeding Center will remain in their temporary corrals in the highlands until repairs can be made to the Center.

Preliminary reports indicate that the southeast coastline of the island of Santa Cruz was among the areas most affected in the archipelago. The Islas Lobos and Manglecito visitor sites are located in that area.

In Santa Cruz, the infrastructure and coastline of Garrapatero Beach suffered damage. A channel formed linking the lagoon, known for the presence of flamingos, with the ocean. This is also a nesting area for sea turtles whose nests were destroyed by the waves.

UPDATE 3/13: Isla Lobos and Mangelicito on San Cristobal both low lying areas along with Garrapatero on Santa Cruz received the most damage within the park. Santa Cruz seems to have had the most damage. Significant damage has been reported to many buildings in Santa Cruz including the Red Mangrove Inn, Banco Pacific and the Police Station. The walkways and rock walls near finch bay were severly damaged and water entered much of the hotel. All locations are working to clean, repair and reopen as quickly as possible.

Quasar Nautica Office Photo by Bolivar Sanchez

Mulle in Puerto Ayora

Mulle (main dock) in Puerto Ayora by Naomi Cortez

Facebook Photo gallery of Puerto Ayora


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§ 21 Responses to Galapagos under Tsunami Alert

  • Lindsay Rigby says:

    My teenage son is in the Galapagos as a volunteer, is likey to have been evacuated ? he is with 1-1 working in conservation.

  • T says:

    have they definitely evacuated people? my sister is there for school. if they’re not having flights go in or out, how are they getting people out of there???

  • Rob K says:

    I hope everyone will be okay on the Galapagos. We are scheduled to fly in on Sunday morning. What are the chances that tourism activities will be resumed by then?

    • Everything is being done to insure the safety of people currently in the islands. The tsunami should arrive there between 3pm and 7pm local time. There is no major damage predicted and as such all activities should return to normal tomorrow.

  • laperru says:

    I just pray for you, Galapagos. I went there last October and I will be devastated if something happens to that beautiful and amazing area.
    All my possitive energy is going to you at this moment.

  • louis says:

    Mes parents sont sur un catamaran au large des Galapagos ,aucune nouvelle… y a t-il un risque ?

  • louis says:

    oh sorry i am French i didn’t see this site is English, my parents are on a catamaran in the offing of the Galapagos, no news from them … Are there risk?

    • Your parents should be fine. The boats have all moved out to deeper water away from the island to avoid any problems when the waves come. I have heard from several people on board different boats who have said all is very calm, they are safe and waiting.

  • Cristina says:

    I live here in Ecuador, not in Galapagos and now is 5:12 local time. Nothing has happened yet.

  • Ryan says:

    Please keep the comments coming from both the Galapagos and Ecuador.

  • Alejandro Torres says:

    Please keep people posted for what is really going gon there.

    I live in Canada but I am from Guayaquil and I am very concerned about the country in general. I don’t think major damage will occur but Id love to stay posted if anybody has any information.

  • andrea says:

    I’m really concern about the animals..Did u guys evacuated them?? animals??

  • Rosita Sanders says:

    Thank you for the info all my relos live in santa cruz my Aunty will be happy to here all our family are safe.Please keep us posted.

  • I lived on Galapagos last year February with the Chile earthquake and people are safe in the higher parts of the islands. We were orderly evacuated and all the boats that went out of the harbor were safe. This tsunami is probably more severe, but in the highlands the people should be safe.

  • Margaret says:

    Thank you for the info. My daughter is on Santa Cruz with a college group. Your blog has provided peace of mind to me. I have tried many outlets to get up to date info, your the best. Thank you.

  • I hope the effect was short-lived enough not to adversely affect the marine and coastal life too severely. Good to hear that people are safe, now the hope is that the special natural legacy of Galapagos is also largely unharmed?

  • Heidi Tornes says:

    Gracias por esto. Tengo un primo por allì, y uno prima esta viajar a los Islas en los proximas dìas.
    Me alegre oir que no algo grave ha ocupado en las islas.

  • […] Luckily, by then the energy of the waves had dissipated somewhat, and the people there had received advanced warning and took to higher ground. The waves hit later in the afternoon, local time, and caused […]

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