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Galapagos Islands News
Lonesome George gets a Change of Scenery
March 18th, 2011
On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake, followed by devastating tsunamis, hit Japan. It made news all over the world, and caused evacuations throughout the Pacific. The resulting tsunamis hit islands and coastlines all over the Pacific area. They even caused minor damage in the Galapagos Islands, thousands of miles away. For their safety, Lonesome George and other residents at the Charles Darwin Research Station were relocated to higher ground until the danger had passed.
When news of the tsunami came, residents of Galapagos feared the worst. Flights were cancelled into and out of the islands, businesses were closed, and all cruise ships were ordered out to deep water, where it would be easy to ride out any tsunamis. The towns in Galapagos, all of which are on the coast, became ghost towns as all residents and tourists headed for higher ground.
The scientists and researchers at the Charles Darwin Research Station weren’t going to leave their friends behind! Lonesome George, last of the Pinta Islands Giant tortoises, was relocated to the highland town of Santa Rosa, along with all his animal friends at the station. The station is home to many tortoises, including hundreds of young tortoises from a captive breeding program, as well as some land iguanas. All of them were moved safely if hastily to their new temporary homes.
The Tsunami Arrives
As expected, the tsunami arrived in Galapagos in the evening on March 11. Overall, damage was much less than feared. Of all of the towns, only Puerto Ayora took any serious damage, and no one was killed. The waves did make it several meters inland, and some hotels and businesses that are on the shoreline suffered some damage, like the Banco del Pacífico and the small artisan market. By the following day, most of the businesses in the towns had reopened and were operating normally.
Lonesome George’s New Digs
Lonesome George and the other animal inhabitants of the Charles Darwin Research Station were miles away from the tsunami and were never in any danger. The research station did sustain some damage, so George and his friends will remain in the highlands for a while until repairs are made.
Aid from the mainland
On March 15, the Ecuadorian government sent food, water and other aid to the families of Galapagos affected by the tsunami. Many fishermen lost their boats, and therefore their livelihood, in the disaster.
All in all, visitors to Galapagos should not notice any major changes to their trips due to the tsunami. The islands, on the whole, escaped major damage: it certainly could have been much worse. The airports were not affected and resumed normal service the following day. The passenger cruisers rode out the tsunami in deep water: in most cases the passengers reported that they didn’t even notice when the tsunami passed underneath them. Most of the businesses have reopened and will continue to operate while repairs are made.
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The Galapagos Islands, nature's last stronghold, a pristine paradise for wildlife lovers and a dreamed vacation for travelers. Don’t let anymore waves pass by before you cruise or visit this amazing sanctuary of unique species and giant creatures
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