Galapagos marine survey phase II

John Brierley

With a proven track record of achievement in marine conservation in Galápagos - following the successful completion of Galápagos Marine Survey 1991 - the aim of the Phase II follow-up project was to return with an enhanced team of marine biology specialists and Ecuadorian counterparts to contribute to the 'Marine Biodiversity and Taxonomic Inventory Programme for Galápagos'. Phase II concentrated efforts in three priority areas: site surveys; conservation through education; and practical long-term conservation measures. Through 270 dives, qualitative assessments of fish and invertebrate populations were made at several locations. An interim report has been requested by the Galapagos National Park Service and Charles Darwin Research Station to help implement management decisions. A folder of material (in Spanish) has been prepared to promote understanding and awareness of the marine environment and to encourage its conservation. Further funding for this has been supplied by the British Council in Quito.

Project update: 22/3/97. The 1996 Galápagos Marine Survey (GMS) built on the achievements of the first survey in 1991 to survey fish and benthic invertebrates at 19 key sites in the Galápagos Islands, Ecuador. Fish surveys revealed clear regional differentiation in species composition and size frequency distributions. Invertebrate surveys focused on the sea-cucumber (Stichopus fuscus) and the Sea-urchin (Tripneustes depressus). Significant reductions in sea-cucumber numbers were observed despite the prohibition of sea-cucumber collection on the islands. Counts of the seahorse (Hippocampus ingens), the slipper lobster (Scyllarides astoriand) the blue and red spiny lobsters (Panurilis gracilis) and (Panurilis inflatus), were also made. Broad habitat descriptions and site maps were compiled to complement the quantitative data on fish and invertebrates. The data provided further support for the development and implementation of a zoned management plan to offer protection to the wide diversity of near-shore marine habitats in Galápagos. An education folder was produced in Spanish to present marine conservation principles and the work of the GMS.

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