A darker side of Galapagos Islands

Hope for a generation
April 5, 2017
Empower the Youth
April 19, 2017

A darker side of Galapagos Islands

 
 
 

Hey beautiful souls, I hope you are having a wonderful day wherever you are in the world. For my first ever post on the Lunamar blog, I wanted to share with you a reflection that I had while visiting one of the most incredible places in the world, the Galapagos Islands. While I enjoyed my visit to the Galapagos Islands last January, I couldn’t help but reflect about another side of Galapagos that the tourism industry has unleashed. This other side of Galapagos that I am referring to is the darker side of Ecuador’s crown jewel, the negative impact of tourism on the islands. As a traveler staying on the islands for a week, I began to think about how much we have contaminated one of the most important ecosystems in the world. I am not saying that tourism is bad, because it is good to have people visit and discover new places and different cultures. However, just like everything else in the world, an excessive amount of something will only do more harm than good. Tourism is no exception..

 

 
 
 
Arriving at the immigration desks of Seymour Airport on Baltra Island, I paid the fees and received a brochure, which gave me an explanation of how to become a “responsible tourist” during my stay in the archipelago. Just by reading this brochure, I was aware that environmental state of the islands was a priority to the people. However, how much of that was a priority for the tourists coming in from different parts of the world? Also, how much of that is a priority for locals who own businesses and gain their living from the tourism industry?
 
 
 
 

During one of the tours I took, I was quite impressed by how everything was organized. Our guide used to work as a local fisherman and was very knowledgeable about the wildlife in Galapagos. However, my views about the trip and the tour in general started to change when we had a snorkeling activity to look at sea turtles. While I was excited about swimming with sea turtles, I knew I didn’t want to swim too close because that would mean invading their space. Sometimes I couldn’t help it because of the sea current, but I tried as best as I could to stay away and not come in contact with them. Unfortunately, not all of my fellow travelers shared my ideals. One of the travelers that I was with decided to swim closer and touched the sea turtle. I know this seems harmless and people might think I am overreacting, but this is actually a big deal. Touching the animals and making physical contact with them was actually prohibited, because as human beings, we also carry bacteria and animals might react to it differently. It’s bad enough that a number of people, including myself, were surrounding these sea creatures. Again, tourism is not always bad, but if we are to take part of tourism, we should at least be aware of these issues and explore these terrains responsibly.

I remembered talking to my guides when I was taking a tour at the turtle sanctuary and I asked him why there were so many flies in Galapagos. My guide explained to me that the flies in Galapagos are not native to the islands. Flies, like other non-native animal in Galapagos, were brought to the islands by men from the colonial period. It seems that we have been bringing so much change to the archipelago since centuries ago, thus the more reason to be conscious and responsible when it comes to our actions today.
 
 
 
 
Once again, I am not writing this reflection to say that tourism is bad and should be stopped. I love traveling and I love to see new parts of world. However, I think it is our responsibility to be aware of our actions as tourist and how it will impact the places that we visit. Let’s make sure that we leave the Galapagos—and all other wonderful sites—preserved, so that future generations can witness them too. What do you think of the impacts of tourism? Should we be visiting these places at all? Do you think responsible tourism is the solution to solving these issues? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!


Stay positive,

Beth
 

By Beth Sudibyo

 
 

 

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1 Comment

  1. Tish says:

    The voice of ralotnatiiy! Good to hear from you.

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