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Galapagos Marine Reserve

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The Galapagos Marine Reserve is one of the largest and most biologically diverse marine protected areas in the world. It covers 133,000 square kilometers (51,352 square miles), surrounding the Galapagos Islands in the eastern Pacific Ocean, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) off Ecuador’s coast.

The strategic location of the islands on the confluence of several marine currents generates a mix of cold and hot water which have allowed the arrival and establishment of species that come from different areas of the Pacific ocean. This makes the reserve an important marine life sanctuary.

Unique wildlife
The presence of the marine mounts and nutrient blooms caused by the Cromwell submarine current generate an unbelievable abundance of plankton that sustains sea birds, sea lions, and other species as whales, sharks and sea turtles that are difficult to observe in other parts of the world. The reserve includes some famous places to dive where you can observe big groups of hammerhead shark, giant whale shark and manta rays, coral reefs, and colorful fishes.

 marine reserve sea turtle  
  • Galapagos Green Sea Turtle: It is a sub-species of the green turtle. The latter is found in tropical or subtropical waters of the Pacific Ocean. The Galapagos species is the only species of green turtle that nests in this archipelago. Despite being in danger, this turtle is killed for its meat and eggs. Many others die when crashing into ships or getting entangled in different networks.
 marine reserve sea lion
  • Sea Lion: This coastal animal is usually playful and curious, spends most of its time near the coast. It is able to dive to depths of 350 meters and can remain underwater for up to ten minutes. A single male or "bull" takes care of many females and spends much of his time defending his territory from other males. The young of this species have different barks so that mothers can differentiate their young when they return from hunting food.
 marine reserve whale shark
  • Whale Shark: It is the largest fish in the world, it exceeds a bus in size. It is covered with exceptional white spots; It is possible to identify each specimen by its pints as if they were fingerprints. Every year between July and September, the whale shark travels to the Galapagos in what appears to be a long migration. Surprisingly, more than 95% of the whale sharks observed in the Galapagos are pregnant females, which means that the islands are a very important place for the conservation of this species.
 marine reserve shark
  • Galapagos Shark: It has this name because the first time he was identified was in Galapagos in 1905. This shark is known to be very curious, often approaching ships and divers, but rarely represents a danger to humans.
 marine reserve giant manta ray
  • Giant Manta RaysThey are the largest species in the world and, unlike the others of the same order, they lack poisonous sting in the tail. Three types of jumps have been observed: forward jump falling head first, forward jump falling with the tail and somersault. The reasons why they do this could be: as a method of escape from their predators, to remove the parasites themselves, to communicate with other rays (the noise caused by hitting the water surface can be heard and seen from several kilometers of distance).
 marine reserve flying fish
  • Flying Fish: It receives this name for its ability to jump out of the water and glide across the surface using its long wings resembling wings. In this way, it avoids being captured by its predators. The average distance of travel can reach 50 meters, although this can be much greater.

Coastal lakes, moist soil, and areas where freshwater and seawater mix contain unique species still to be studied. Cold, hot and warm marine currents come together here, generating a wide diversity of animal life: from small colored fish to large mammals; marine iguanas, Galapagos Land Iguana, Galapagos crabs, Blue-footed boobie, swallow-tailed gulls, ducks, frigatebirds, and the Galapagos tortoise. The most unique species to the Galápagos is the Marine Iguana, due to its amphibious nature. It is the only known reptilian lizard that can forage in water and on land.

How to get in?
As with the Galapagos National Park, entry to the Galapagos Marine Reserve is through the Baltra and Cristobal airports. Near to populated harbors, there are beaches, bays, lagoons, and islets that can be easily visited, either on your own or by hiring the services of local operators authorized by the National Park Directorate.

What to do?
In certain areas in the Galapagos Marine Reserve, it is possible for visitors to dive or snorkel, and many guests have come into contact with marvelous aquatic species that live underwater. Other habitats within the Marine Reserve are the rocky seabed, vertical rock faces, sandy beaches, mangrove swamps and, to a lesser extent, coral reefs. A popular spot is Tortuga Bay on the Island of Santa Cruz where there is a separate mangrove where there are always white tip reef sharks.

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