Galapagos Update

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society office in the Galapagos is hosting Animal Balance for the month of February. The non-profit organization Animal Balance is conducting a spay and neuter program on domestic dogs on Santa Cruz island during February.

Sea Shepherd has been working with Animal Balance for the last few years. The program has successfully performed spay and neuter operations on over 1200 animals on San Cristobal and Isabela Islands.

Keeping dog populations down in the Galapagos is in the interest of the indigenous wildlife. Iguanas in particular have been killed by domestic dogs.

According to the Special Law of the Galapagos, it is illegal to bring dogs to the island, but the fishermen who have been moving to the islands over the last few years do what they wish and the law is seldom, if ever, enforced.

Last year, we reported on the illegal activities of some members of Celebrity cruises involved in shark fishing from the vessel Xpedition. The Galapagos National Park has handed down a penalty to Celebrity Cruises and has suspended the operation of the boat for two months and fined the company $80,000. That was one expensive shark hunt and Sea Shepherd is hopeful that the penalty will send a strong message to the industry as a whole to not engage in illegal fishing.

The charges stemmed from the release of photographs showing three Xpedition crewmembers holding sharks they had caught while onboard the ship. On January 19, the tourist boat Galapagos Adventure II was caught by the Galapagos National Park rangers with 18 sacks of sea cucumbers four miles off Santa Cruz Island. The contraband sea cucumbers were seized and the case will be scheduled for a hearing.

The Sea Shepherd vessel Sirenian remains on patrol in the Galapagos National Park Marine Reserve. Last year, our five-year contract ended and we signed an agreement with the director of the Park to keep the ship there on a permanent basis. During the time the Sirenian has been based there, the patrol vessel has intervened against hundreds of illegal activities, seized numerous poaching vessels, and aided in oil spill clean-up efforts.