AUTHOR Juan Bastidas
AUTHOR Juan Bastidas
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season – traveling, scouring online for gifts for loved ones, and potentially even braving the crowded corridors of one’s local electronics store on Black Friday – it is often easy for one to forget the true meaning of the season: that of giving, and goodness.
Bearing this in mind, we at Ecoventura are paying particular attention to Giving Tuesday, an international day of giving which occurs on the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving (November 27th this year).
In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, we want to take this moment to reflect on some of our most gratifying efforts spent in and around the Galapagos Islands. Our proudest initiatives continue to be conservation, wildlife preservation, and supporting education in the Galapagos, the storied and unparalleled ecology upon which 19th-century naturalist Charles Darwin based his Origin of Species, and a work that eventually led to his lauded theory of natural selection. Today Galapagos harbors many fragile ecosystems, and Ecoventura has been honored in past and present years to contribute to fundraising, education, and enhancing local involvement toward its preservation.
Read below to learn about our conservation and community efforts here in the Galapagos — and how you can give back this holiday season!
Galapagos Biodiversity & Education for Sustainability Fund (GBESF)
Last year, Ecoventura created a fund with the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Park (GNP) and the Galapagos Biodiversity and Education for Sustainability Fund (GBESF) was established. GBESF helps fund research and conservation projects related to biodiversity including (but not limited to): monitoring trips, community outreach, scientific equipment, and GNPD boat maintenance and equipment as well as the support of projects related to education for sustainability, including scholarships for Galapagueños to study at a local or national university.
This year, all proceeds (net revenue from cabins sold) on the MV ORIGIN Galapagos cruise Sep 2-9 and from the MV Galapagos Sky dive liveaboard May 13-20 were allocated to the fund. Over $100,000 USD was raised our first year, and the goal is to double that figure in 2019. On both cruises, our guests benefited not only from supporting the fund, but also from having guest scientists on board the entire week, and learning about their projects at CDF. For example, a Senior Marine Biologist, an Entomologist and shark researchers. You can join us in 2019 aboard the MV THEORY the week of September 15-22 2019 and 100% of proceeds go directly to support GBESF. This will be a special week to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of CDF.
Ecology Project International (EPI)
The aforementioned scholarships and betterment opportunities have been a particular source of pride for us. In concert with Ecology Project International (EPI), Ecoventura since 2012 has supported scholarships every year for high school students from the islands to study conservation-related issues under EPI’s oversight. Through Ecoventura and EPI’s partnership, students spend 50 hours in the field studying issues related to the island’s famed tortoises and examining the effects of invasive species’ on local ecology.
Additionally, Ecoventura invites students every year to take a mentoring cruise on board one of our incredible first-class yachts, the Eric and Letty. This gives students some insight into the work of our guides and career conservationists. Our most recent trip occurred just last month on board the Eric. Donations aid further future student opportunities.
“Thank you for the opportunity you gave us to learn new things about the islands, exchange ideas with other cultures, and awaken our interest to continue protecting the Galapagos Islands.” – Local student
Young Photographers Of Galapagos Project
In March of this year, we sponsored a trip for a mentor and three students from Jovenes fotografos de Galapagos (Young Photographers of Galapagos) to join us on the MY Eric vessel for a for a week-long journey of wildlife photography.
Photo credit: Carlos Salinas
Dayana Sanmartin, one of the youths selected for the trip, remarked: “These four days were full of excitement and unforgettable. Our mentor has given me the opportunity to visit and photograph many places on different occasions and helped me to grow as a person in different ways too.”
Pack For A Purpose
Since 2011, we have also encouraged visitors to the island to Pack for a Purpose. The initiative encourages guests of the Ecoventura yachts to reserve packing space in their luggage for important medical or school supplies for locals.
Notably, supplies are donated to the students at the Alejandro Alvear School, benefiting children with physical disabilities and adults who are hearing impaired; and The New Era Galapagos Foundation, which supports art programs, Eco-Scouts, and English activities.
Galapagos Conservation Trust
We rounded out an already gratifying year last month at the historic Royal Geographic Society in London with the Galapagos Conservation Trust as the organization celebrated its annual Galapagos Day. While experts spoke on recent breakthroughs and innovations related to conservation there, Ecoventura was honored to donate a cabin at the organization’s Garden Party Auction. Proceeds from the event were allocated toward research regarding future preservation of island ecology and infrastructure, and future initiatives.
Photo credit: Galapagos Conservation Trust
Island Conservation – Floreana restoration Project
Due to the threat of invasive species that threaten native plants and animals such as the critically endangered Floreana Mockingbird, Island Conservation is working with the island community of Floreana to revive the ecosystem by removing feral cats, rats and mice. To show our support for this restoration project, Ecoventura donated a cabin on the MV ORIGIN to auction and raise funds to help continue their work and benefit the local community.
Ecoventura is beyond pleased to recognize the successes of so many organizations devoted to the bettering and preservation of the Galapagos Islands, and doubly so in this season of giving. Please see below for opportunities for contribution.
This Giving Tuesday, in-kind donations can be made to causes that specifically benefit Galapagos conservation including:
- Support the work of the Charles Darwin Foundation
- Make a donation to The Floreana Restoration Project
- Help fund Galapagos Conservation Trust’s Shark Conservation Programme
- Raise funds for field courses for local Galapagos students through Ecology Project International
Photo credit: Galapagos Conservation Trust
Ecoventura – Giving Through The Years
For nearly three decades, Ecoventura has sought to share with travelers the enchantment and history of the Galapagos Islands through cruises, fundraising, and education initiatives. Other organizations Ecoventura has committed to, include; Center for Responsible Travel (CREST), Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Montana Natural History Center, Florida Museum of Natural History, and Rainforest Alliance.