• The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) was recently granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status.


• It is the largest marine reserve in a developing country
• It is the second largest marine reserve in the world
• Lies 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from the Ecuadorian mainland
• Covers an area of around 133,000 km2
• Cold and warm marine currents come together here, producing a wide diversity of animal life: from small colored fish to large mammals

In specific areas of the Galapagos Marine Reserve, you can dive or snorkel and come into contact with wonderful underwater species like: Whales, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, rays, manta rays, sword fish and turtles, etc.


The Galápagos Marine Reserve faces a number of environmental threats.

Overfishing and Illegal Fishing

• The legal local sea cucumber and lobster fisheries are heavily depleted and may be close to collapse.

• This poses serious consequences for the large fishing sector in Galápagos, who will likely turn to illegal practices, such as shark finning, overfishing of tuna, and illegal export of sea cucumbers.

Pollution and Development
These two elements pose an additional threat to both marine and terrestrial wildlife. The parallel growth of the tourism industry and local populations means this problem will surely increase. The population of Galápagos is growing at a rate of approximately 6% per year, more than double population growth of mainland Ecuador. The grounding of the tanker Jessica, delivering bunker fuel and diesel for tourist ships and the Ecuadorian Navy, brought attention from the world to the marine threats from increased human activities on the Islands.

Many international science and conservation organizations work to protect the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Among them are Wildaid and the Charles Darwin Foundation.  WildAid is working to teach the staff of the Galapagos National Park to protect the reserve from overfishing and other threats.