My love of the ocean began at a young age. I spent many weekends visiting aquariums and the seaside and watching every David Attenborough series back to back. I studied animal conservation and biodiversity at University, where my love for the oceans bloomed, and straight after graduating I found a job with the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) as Trust and Foundations Fundraiser. My role is finding and applying for grants to fund our projects in Galapagos. GCT is the only UK registered charity to focus exclusively on the conservation and sustainability of the Galapagos Archipelago. Launched in 1995 at the Royal Society, we have supported a vast array of projects in Galapagos, focusing on our two programme areas: Science & Education and Education & Sustainability. GCT’s mission is to support, develop and promote projects that achieve measurable conservation, sustainable living, and protection of the Galapagos environment. This includes supporting many projects helping to protect the incredibly biodiverse oceans surrounding Galapagos.
GCT runs several projects in Galapagos ranging from studying the iconic Galapagos giant tortoise to head starting chicks of the tiny Mangrove finch. We believe that protection of our oceans across the globe is vital to minimize possible negative impact on the sea life. We currently have 3 projects working towards protecting the oceans around the Galapagos Islands, these are: The Galapagos Seabird Survey, the Galapagos Whale Shark project and lastly the Galapagos Bullhead Shark project.
The seabirds of Galapagos are incredibly vulnerable to climate change and the species most in danger are; Waved Albatross, Galapagos Penguin, Flightless Cormorant and all three types of boobies. GCT is researching the effects of climate change by funding research teams on Galapagos to undertake several Seabird surveys. These surveys aim to monitor the populations of each seabird species, allowing us to better understand and address the issue of climate change. Data recorded will be put forward to the Galapagos National Park in a bid to increase the legislation protecting local and global marine environments.
The Galapagos Whale Shark project is breaking new records, with the longest ever recorded track from a satellite tag. We managed to record an incredible 180 days of data from a female whale shark. Since the beginning of the project in 2011, the project has tagged over 60 whale sharks and have uncovered information never before known about this elusive species.
The Galapagos Bullhead Shark Project started in 2015, funded by the National Marine Aquarium, is working to protect this small, rare shark species. Currently, very little is known about the species, so the project is aiming to discover the population size in Galapagos primarily through the use of citizen science. This project also includes the very first annual Shark Day event on the island of San Cristobal.
Our projects mainly focus on specific species but within each project, we work to understand issues affecting the whole ecosystem, from recording temperature changes, plankton abundance, rising sea levels, pollution, threats and human impacts. This ensures that we are maximising our positive impact on the Islands.
Although the majority of our work takes place in Ecuador, we also work in the UK, promoting conservation work around the globe. It is vital to protect our seas both here in the UK and globally, as the oceans are imperative to human life. I am very excited to attend the National Marine Aquarium Easter Event where I will be hosting a stall and running a number of fun, educational activities for the kids to participate in, with the opportunity to win prizes!