Tourist Mosquitoes Threaten the Galapagos


If you could declare a home town of evolution it would be the Galapagos Islands. Back in 1835 a sea sick young naturalist, Charles Darwin, landed on the Galapagos to conduct a little research. That research was the genesis of Darwin’s seminal work “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.” Darwin was inspired by the grand variety of animals filling specific niches on the islands.

Now tourism is threatening to wipe out the animals which inspired one of the most important works in all of science. This time, for once, humans are not the main bad guy in this story. Although, as often the case, humans are involved unwittingly. When humans visit the island, they don’t realize they are bringing along a stowaway. Mosquitoes. The oft-maligned disease ridden scourge of the world.

A study, co-authored by Leeds University, the Zoological Society of London, the University of Guayaquil, the Galapagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation, was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, and found that the southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, was hitching rides on planes from the South American, and island-hopping on tourist boats between the different Galapagos Islands.

Mosquitoes are a well known carrier of disease. Galapagos species threatened by diseases such as avian malaria or West Nile include the islands’ whose-who, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions and finches.

Now, the mosquitoes are breeding, and with tourism increasing rapidly, the future of Galapagos hangs on the ability of the Ecuadorian government to maintain protection for it’s islands inhabitants. Let’s get the word out, just make sure that they are keeping an eye on this problem.

Source: Discovery News

Image Credit: Daniel Hohler

1 thought on “Tourist Mosquitoes Threaten the Galapagos”

  1. Hi, my names Layla Baker from Imagine Publishing. There are two new books coming out, one in August the other in September, the first Galapagos, The Untamed Isles by Pete Oxford & Renee Bish. Pete’s photographs are simply stunning and depict the wildlife in the Galapagos and it’s paired with a foreword from Graham Watkins who is a former director of the Charles Darwin Foundation. Each picture will leave you breathless from iguanas swimming in deep blue waters, to a sea lion mother with her baby and a brilliantly-colored vermilion flycatcher on Spanish moss. Besides snapshots of animals in this beautifully made book, it includes pictures of the volcanic eruption of Fernandina in the winter of 1995.

    The second book, out in September, is Galapagos Both Sides of the Coin by Graham Watkins and Pete Oxford with a foreword by His Royal Highness, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This book really gives the reader an insight into the complicated dilemmas were having with conserving the ecosystem in the Galapagos Islands. The year of 2009 is the year of Charle Darwin. From the 150th anniversary of the publication of his study that changed the world, to the 200th birthday of Darwin and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Galapagos National Park and also the 50th anniversary of the making of the Charles Darwin Foundation. It’s also a two-sided coffee book, so that when you begin reading, its the gorgeous pictures of the islands beauty and the second section is a description of the important battle to maintain this environment.

    Both of these books are simply amazing and will help understand the beauty and uniqueness of the Galapagos and how important it is to conserve its sanctity.

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