7 thoughts on “Galapagos volcano eruption

  1. Volcanic eruption takes toll on Galapagos wildlife

    April 16th, 2009 Eruption of the La Cumbre volcano in Fernandina island

    Aerial handout photo released by the Galapagos National Park (PNG) on April 12, 2009 of the eruption of the La Cumbre volcano in Fernandina island, Galapagos, Ecuador. A volcanic eruption over the weekend has taken a toll on the wildlife of the ecologically-fragile Galapagos Islands, causing the deaths of numerous fish and various sea lions, said officials on Thursday.

    A volcanic eruption over the weekend has taken a toll on the wildlife of the ecologically-fragile Galapagos Islands, causing the deaths of numerous fish and various sea lions, said officials on Thursday.

    Dead wildlife was spotted in the Pacific Ocean waters off the famed island chain not long after the eruption Saturday of the La Cumbre volcano, officials at the nature preserve said.

    Officials said a lava flow 10-meters (some 30-feet) wide poured into the Pacific Ocean waters after the eruption.

    Saturday’s eruption by the 1,500-meter- (4,500-foot-) tall La Cumbre was the first in four years, officials said.

    Authorities stressed that the eruption was part of the Galapagos’ ecosystem and said they were not inclined to intervene, other than to “monitor and document the changes” on the flora and fauna of the archipelago.

    Located 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) west of Ecuador’s coast, the Galapagos archipelago of 13 main islands and 17 islets is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

    In 2007, UNESCO declared the famous island chain’s environment endangered due to the increase of tourism and the introduction of invasive species.

    The pristine nature reserve was where Charles Darwin conducted his landmark research that led to his revolutionary theories on evolution.

    (c) 2009 AFP

  2. Walking in Darwin’s footsteps
    Montana Western journey to Galapagos trip of a lifetime

    By Nick Gevock – 04/18/2009

    Josh Buckmaster had a close up view of sea turtles on the Galapagos Islands that’s impossible to get in a textbook.

    At times, it was almost too close, like the time Buckmaster said he eased away from a tortoise that’s head was inches from his own.

    “It wasn’t frightened in the slightest way,” Buckmaster, a senior at the Montana Western in Dillon, said recently. “And you’d dive down with the sea turtles and they’d cock their head, look at you and keep on feeding.” That lack of fear of humans from wildlife on the islands is one of the reasons the Galapagos are such a perfect laboratory for biologists. And it’s why Charles Darwin, who explored the islands more than 150 years ago, was able to discover the fundamental principle that has guided biology since.

    Students and professors at Montana Western and a few adult travelers came looking for the same thing several weeks ago. The group of 23 went to the Galapagos, as well as a tour of Ecuador, as part of an 11-day excursion to study geology, biology and natural resource management.

    They found a place full of unique animals. There were blue-footed boobies, lizards that live among lava flows along the shore and a species of penguin that lives on the equator. And there were sea tortoises, sea lions and the various species of finches that helped Darwin figure out the species evolved.

    Darwin famously observed that different species of finches on the Galapagos, an archipelago 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador, had beaks perfectly suited to different tasks. Each was an adaptation to the particular environment of the island they lived on, a result of spending years there and needing that characteristic to survive.

    It got Darwin to thinking and years later he published “On the Origin of Species.” It remains a key work for biology students.

    “It just struck him that whether it’s the plants or the snails, they were really showing him that things are changeable or adaptable,” Jack Kirkley, a Montana Western biology professor who helped lead a trip. “Species don’t stay the same — they change — and it’s clear that it happens on these islands.

    “There’s just no other explanation for what he was seeing there.” Students said they were just as impressed with the sights, smells and sounds of the Galapagos, as well as Ecuador.

    “You can read about it out of a textbook all day long, but you touch it and it cements it in your head,” Buckmaster said. “I took a picture of a tortoise that was better than that textbook.” Volcanic islands The group set off and began its excursion in Ecuador. They spent time observing the natural world around Cotopaxi, a massive active volcano that is a national park.

    They found leaves so big they worked as ponchos, numerous wildlife species and other natural wonders. At higher altitudes, they found a cloud forest, a rare environment, as well as conditions like alpine ecology with grasses that are similar to those found in Montana, said Sheila Roberts, Montana Western geology professor who helped lead the trip.

    After several days of study, the group flew out to the Galapagos Islands, where they set out on a boat that served as accommodations for the remainder.

    The group stayed on the boat in keeping with Ecuador’s strict management of the islands. The country only allows people on the islands during the daytime and people aren’t even allowed to urinate there to help preserve the environment.

    And groups must have a guide to enforce the rules: no touching or feeding animals, no collecting of anything and no straying from the group, among others. But none of that barred the group from seeing the incredible natural world of the Galapagos. That wasn’t limited to the plants and animals there, said Ashley Neill, a senior from Great Falls majoring in environmental science.

    “It was like the textbook island volcanism you read about, something that we never get to experience in Montana,” Neill said. “The actual mechanism that’s creating the Galapagos Islands are pretty much the biggest hot spots on the planet.” Lava flows only a few years old were visible, so young that barely anything grew in them. Other, older islands within the archipelago were flatter, with more soil and more vegetation.

    Evolution exemplified Even as a geology student, however, Neill said she couldn’t help but be fascinated by the wildlife. It was evolution in vivid color.

    “There were times when you could step on the lizards because they were as black as the freshly formed lava,” she said. “And on other islands they were gray.” Those marine iguanas are just one of the numerous species endemic to the Galapagos. And each has its own story to tell about how living in an isolated, harsh place that requires adaptations to make it.

    There’s the blue-footed booby — a sea bird with feet so blue it appears artificial, almost neon. There’s a flightless cormorant, an aptly named bird that still has wings and yet uses them to swim through the water while fishing.

    And of course there were those finches that illustrated so well to Darwin that animals found their niche in their environment by changing over time.

    “They all look about the same, but they all have different beaks,” Kirkley said. “These are aboriginal creations right here.” The entire spectacle was viewed from a front row seat.

    Helen Sladek, a junior majoring in geology, said the animals would sometimes move closer to people.

    “You’d have to move away,” she said.

    Yet Kirkley said that’s similar to what Darwin recorded. The animals aren’t afraid of people and just go about their business when being observed, allowing a biologist to make observations.

    “It’s sort of like seeing a piece of nature in its raw and unblemished state,” he said.

    Strict management The trip was also a lesson in how Ecuador manages the islands, which are a national park and World Heritage Site. The government’s strict rules are meant to keep it protected.

    Yet the islands are not pristine, Roberts said. Decades ago Ecuador encouraged settlement of the islands and today 30,000 people live there.

    It has also suffered from some introduced species that have damaged the natural environment. Sailors put goats on the island to provide a source of meat. Rats made it there as well.

    But the government has worked hard to right those wrongs. It ran an eradication program on the goats and is working to get rid of the rats, although that’s harder.

    Ecuador has been progressive in other ways. It only allows the roughly 150,000 tourists who come to the islands to walk on a total of one percent of the island.

    And all of the guides there are well trained and strictly enforce the rules, Roberts said.

    In all, Kirkley estimates the group took well more than 30,000 photographs recording the trip. Buckmaster alone said he accounts for just shy of 3,000 photos, and most students averaged around 1,000 shots.

    But Neill said that’s not enough to satisfy her fascination with the islands. She said someday she’ll go back.

    “At some point in time I’m sure these memories are going to become foggy,” she said. “I’m going to need to refresh it because it was a once in a lifetime experience.” Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at nick.gevock@mtstandard.com.

    http://www.mtstandard.com/articles/2009/04/20/bigskylife/hjjajfibhheiih.txt

  3. Ecuador volcano still spewing lava
    Updated: 10:47, Wednesday April 22, 2009

    A Volcano on the Galapagos Islands continues to spew lava, gas and smoke for the first time in four years.

    The Galapagos National Park said that La Cumbre volcano began spewing lava, gas and smoke on uninhabited Fernandina Island on Saturday after four years of inactivity.

    The Galapagos, which is home to the worlds most unique animal and plant species, is not likely to suffer any widespread damage.

    The park said in a statement that the eruption was not a threat to people living on nearby Isabela Island.

    http://www.skynews.com.au/news/article.aspx?id=324480

  4. We weere there in 2007 and even then realized how fragikle the whole environment is. But it was awesome in it’s variety and the ability of flora and fauna to find an ecological foothold in such a forbidding area. The hike to the top was breathtaking and beautiful. Urge anyone who reads this to give to the Galapagos Conservancy, PO Box 231720, CEnterville VA 20120-7720, a 501-c-3, for all the good work they do in helping preserve wildlife in GI. go to “galapagos.org” to see their station on San ?? Island (forget the name). We visisted and were inspired to contribute.

  5. Pingback: Galapagos tortoise Lonesome George dies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  6. Pingback: Galapagos marine iguanas video | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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