Galapagos guides work tirelessly to free sharks from illegal fishing gear
These Galapagos Islands tour guides experienced a tragic situation in the remote waters near San Cristobal Island. They discovered jugs, floats, flags and other debris floating on the surface. They had worked on Galapagos Sky, a liveaboard tour operation that helps eco-conscious adventures discover the wonder and beauty of the Galapagos Islands. They love the ocean and they love to teach those who come here to connect with nature in order to maintain the fragile balance under the waves.
Crew members left the ship in a small dinghy or panga and set out to collect the debris. They were horrified to find that it was a long line and a web that had been left behind. More than 15 large sharks and billfish were caught and were dead or died. For several hours they worked tirelessly to pull in the lines and nets to free the creatures that could be saved. Unfortunately only two sharks survived.
The use of illegal longlines and nets is increasing in the Galapagos Islands. Many ships from other countries show up in violation of international law and nature conservation treaties, and over-harvesting of animals is devastating to the health of the waters here. Many ships turn off their navigation systems to avoid detection by the authorities. Officials from other countries claim they are unaware of the practices and locations of their fishing fleets. The illegal activity is not penalized if governments pretend not to know.
The crew of the Galapagos Sky and the residents of the Galapagos Islands have a special love for nature. Their respect for the delicate balance is second to none and they are committed to preserving the populations of all animals here. Seeing such abuse is heartbreaking for her.
These tour guides pulled lines and cut hooks from the mouths of Galapagos sharks, hammerheads and billfish, also known as sailfish or marlin. They watched the lifeless bodies of the majestic fish and held back tears as they worked in disbelief. The marine life will not be left behind if longlines and nets continue to be used. Equally tragic is that these fish have been completely wasted in what appeared to be abandoned fishing gear. Ships often flee without collecting their catch to avoid detection and enforcement. Abandoned lines can affect animals for months or years if not removed from the water.
The Galapagos Islands and the surrounding waters are among the most beautiful and important areas on our planet. It would be more than tragic to continue this devastation and waste here.
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