NEW YORK -- Clean-up efforts following the Jan. 16 oil spill in the
Galapagos Islands and measures to deal with future environmental
disasters there could cost more than $2 million, staff at the
Charles Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz island said.
Tourism companies that operate in the region so far have pledged
to donate more than $50,000, and some have set up matching grant
challenges, as follows:The International Galapagos Tour Operators Association donated
$5,000 to the Charles Darwin Foundation and appealed to its 39
members to each donate at least $500 each.New York-based Special Expeditions contributed $15,000 in
emergency funds and said it would match its passengers'
contributions up to $25,000.Ecoventura, based in Ecuador, donated $6,000 to the Galapagos
National Park. It also offered one of its 20-passenger motor yachts
at a discounted charter rate of $25,000, with the entire proceeds
earmarked for the clean-up effort.Metropolitan Touring, in Ecuador, volunteered its cargo ship
for hauling supplies to the Galapagos from mainland Ecuador and
said it would match up to $25,000 contributed by its passengers
through Feb. 28.
It advanced $10,000 of that amount to the clean-up effort and
said it would contribute profits from the May 1 to 4 sailing of the
Isabela II yacht. A special cabin price of $1,800 is being
offered.Canodros, owner of the Galapagos Explorer II, donated $10,000
for clean-up efforts and volunteered a 20-man crew to join the
operations in San Cristobal.
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More donations are needed, however, according to station
director Robert Bensted-Smith. "Control of the spill, clean up,
ecological monitoring and development of the capability to prevent
and manage further disasters in Galapagos are all expensive tasks,"
The spill occurred when the Ecuadoran tanker Jessica ran aground
on the rocks of Wreck Bay just off San Cristobal Island. The tanker
had intended to off-load the fuel for the Galapagos Explorer
The diesel oil spill reached Santa Fe Island, which remained
closed to cruise visitors, and Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz, where
volunteers raked in and sandbagged fuel that had come ashore. They
also evacuated affected wildlife for special care.
Sven Lindblad, president of Special Expeditions whose Polaris
cruises year-round in the Galapagos, pointed out that "with world
interest focused on Galapagos problems, the silver lining may be
that the daily issues of importance to preservation of fragile
environments will get more attention."
Donations to aid in the clean-up can be made to the Charles
Darwin Foundation, 100 N. Washington St., Falls Church, Va. 22046;
(703) 538-6833; Web www.galapagos.org.