Juan Fernando Arizaga with Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges, discusses the risks to the Galapagos Islands through imported products.
Please note: Juan Fernando Arizaga works for Red Mangrove Galapagos Lodges as the Sales & Diving Coordinator. In this video, he speaks from his own experience and training. Juan has lived and worked in the Galapagos as a Red Mangrove Tour Leader. He has traveled extensively with Galapagos Naturalist Guides and has taken the Mandatory Temporary Residents Course. To clarify, Juan is not a scientist or a government official. If you have specific questions about allowable and prohibited items in the Galapagos, please contact: SICGAL.
What threats do imported products present to the Galapagos Islands?
Well, Galapagos is an isoloated eco system and it has evolved according to that. It has happened, for instance, that the presence of goats have become competition mainly to the Giant tortoises because they can reproduce faster, mobilize faster and they consume more of what the Giant Tortoises also consume. So in that case competition is one hazard.
But also, cats are being brought to the Islands and there are no natural land predators in Galapagos. So in that case a finch wouldn’t know that a cat is a threat. I’ve seen many cats attaching finches that didn’t even know how to react. So in this case, they represent a threat, not only competition, to the species of the Galapagos.
Thats why, in the allowed products and the restricted products it says only for human consumption purposes. So you can not bring products with seeds and roots. It is because these seeds represent competition also for other vegetation in the Galapagos. They are rated for the most aggressive they could be when they are spread.
Regarding the blackberries I mentioned, finches and giant tortoises love this fruit and this fruit grows very rapidly in the islands. Apart from the fact that they grow rapidly – that the species in the Galapagos eat them means that they will spread it faster. It represents competition for the escalasia tree – which is actually a sunflower which evolved into a tree. So its actually a big deal and we have to protect it.