Galapagos on Orange Alert Due to Tides

August 11, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Galapagos Islands was placed on orange alert today by the National Risk Management in anticipation of waves up to 4 meters and a strong surge from south of the continent.  This is a natural event and is not related to any tsunami or earthquake.

Tourists staying on the island of San Cristobal had to reschedule their activities to on the islands. Visitors had planned to take speedboats in the morning to Santa Cruz or Isabela were informed they would not be able to leave. However, activities on the boardwalk and on land remains completely normal.  Smaller vessels like fishing or speed boats made out of fiberglass are forbitten  to leave port for safety reasons.  

The fishing, diving, coastal loading and unloading docks of the Galapagos are suspended for the day.  The organge alert did not effect persons on Galapagos Cruises.


Report on impact of Tsunami on Galapagos Wildlife

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Eighteen hours after the March 11 tsunami wreaked devastation in Japan, it hit the Galápagos Islands.  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 significant damage only to some buildings located near the water’s edge. The Charles Darwin Research Station’s (CDRS) marine biology lab and its equipment were largely destroyed. The lab is critical in carrying out the marine monitoring work that feeds into the Galápagos National Park’s management work.

Soon after the disaster, the CDRS applied to the Rapid Response Facility to help it re-establish its marine monitoring capability, and also to carry out a rapid assessment of the impacts of the tsunami on Galápagos wildlife, which contribute a great deal to this site’s Outstanding Universal Value as recognized under the World Heritage Convention.

Their preliminary report has just been received.  It indicates that impacts varied significantly between areas.  It notes that the height and penetration of the wave at the coast was very specific to different localities within and between islands, with varying impacts upon the flora and fauna.  Several beach areas were extensively reconfigured, while others showed large scale sediment shifts offshore, probably limited by upper littoral vegetation roots (including those of mangroves) stabilizing the sediment.

Important flightless cormorant nesting sites on Fernandina island, the most undisturbed large island in Galápagos, showed evidence of the destruction of existing nests, but the scientists also noted that adults had largely survived and had recommenced nesting and egg laying. Occasional mortalities were evident (sea turtles and marine iguanas) at the upper limits of the wave. Other sites, such a small but critically important mangrove area (home to the very rare nesting mangrove finches) were apparently not negatively affected.  Marine turtle and iguana nesting was affected depending upon wave height, beach profile and nesting behavior.

The CDRS reports that it was currently following up lines of investigation to examine the dynamic of the wave as it propagated throughout the archipelago with their associates in the Ecuadorian Navy compiling information for Park and Disaster mitigation planning agencies.

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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