Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

Galapagos Oil Spill: Technical Report 09 May 2001

Originally published

Although several months have passed since the Jessica oil spill, follow-up work continues. Scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), continue to monitor sites to discover which areas the fuel affected. Of the 650 sites throughout the Galapagos Islands that were selected for sampling, only the sites in Santa Cruz and Santa Fe remain to be checked. In the next two weeks five staff members of the area of Vertebrate Ecology and Monitoring will visit these sites in a motor launch and carefully search for any traces of fuel.

The next stage of follow-up will involve studying the actual animals (e.g. marine iguanas, and sea birds), in both areas that were and were not affected in order to compare their behavior, reproduction, and health. These studies will give a better indication of the impact of the oil spill on the wildlife.

A group of marine biologists from France and Australia are analyzing the impacts on the shores that were heavily oiled during the spill on the islands of Isabela and Floreana. Initial studies should take one month.

Another two scientists from Australia have begun a study of the reef at the site of the wreck. They will be checking the extent of impact to the reef and if any introduced species are attached to the hull of the ship. They will analyze the impacts to the individual flora and fauna, with a focus on vertebrates. Their research is expected to last three or four weeks.

Additional research being conducted by CDRS marine biologists includes the use of satellite images to compare the levels of chlorophyll in surface waters for similar times in the year before and after the oil spill. This analysis should indicate whether the oil spill had any major impact on the primary productivity of the waters around the marine reserve compared to previous years.