Words by Sharon Johnson, CEO, Galapagos Conservation Trust The Galapagos Islands are unlike anywhere else on Earth, the birthplace of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection and a unique and unspoiled ecosystem. Along with its worldwide notoriety due to Darwin’s work on evolution, Galapagos later went on to become the first ever UNESCO […]
Galapagos Conservation Trust
Isolated 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and its resident wildlife and ecosystems are unique and fragile. With increasing human impact, they are also extremely vulnerable to change.
GCT is the only UK charity focused solely on the conservation of the Galapagos Archipelago, one of the most ecologically important places in the world.
With nearly 25 years of experience, they partner with Ecuadorian authorities, NGOs, local communities and leading researchers to support impactful conservation programmes and deliver community outreach across the Archipelago.
As a charity GCT relies on the generosity of donors in the UK and abroad to raise money to support our work so that we can preserve Galapagos for generations to come.
“We are repeatedly warned of the accelerating rate of species extinction worldwide and Galapagos is no exception. Around 80% of the land birds and 97% of the reptiles and land mammals in Galapagos are found nowhere else in the world, yet over 80 Galapagos species are now listed as either critically endangered or endangered. Galapagos Conservation Trust is committed to the continued conservation of Galapagos and supports ongoing efforts to protect and conserve its wildlife and ecosystems” – Sharon Johnson, CEO, Galapagos Conservation Trust
We are delighted to be working with Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) as part of our commitment to conservation through our Mindfully Made Project. We will donate 40p from each piece of our new NosiLife Adventure Swimwear range sold which will go towards their significant work on the Galapagos Islands to make it plastic free.
Jonathan Green – Craghoppers Ambassador and Director of the Galapagos White Sharks Project
Where did your passion for exploration come from?
Born in England I grew up in Chester and studied Geology and Geography at North London University. I have always wanted to explore ever since I can remember. North Wales and the surrounding countryside was where I first became interested in Paleontology – fossil hunting whenever I could. The outdoors always seemed where I found my peace and happiness. I was fortunate to learn to dive with a local dive club and early forays into the Irish Sea convinced me that I wanted a career in the underwater world.
When did you become interested in whale sharks?
After University, I travelled, living in the south of France, (surfing) and in Spain, improving my Spanish before starting work in the Galapagos Islands. Expedition travel took me to many parts of South America but it was the underwater world of the Galapagos and whale sharks that really fascinated me.
In 2005 I formed a group of interested dive masters to collect data about whale sharks and the Galapagos Whale Shark Project, (featured in Episode VII of the BBC’s Blue Planet II), was launched. The project rapidly expanded into a full time research project and in 2010 we began the first satellite tagging programme. In 2016/17 we worked with the BBC team and one of my life’s dreams became reality as I made several dives with a submersible into the depths of the Galapagos twilight zone in search of whale sharks. In 2018, we carried out the first ever successful ultrasound examinations and blood draw of whale sharks in a free swimming environment. Work continues to discover the mysteries of the natural and reproductive cycle of the greatest shark ever to inhabit this planet.
What is your favourite place to explore?
This is a difficult question. Three days ago I walked across the frozen Ocean. I was the first and maybe only human to do so as within days this ice will break off from the land and disintegrate. I was surrounded on all sides by mountains that reached up from the sea to heights of nearly 3000m, (10 000ft) above sea level, all clad in ice and snow, with glaciers of blue ice tumbling down between. I could hear no other sounds than those of nature, the wind across the frozen sea, the ice particles hissing, distant penguins calling and the thunder of calving glaciers. Not a single mechanical sound and no other human in sight…. In a few months I return to dive at Darwin Arch with schooling hammerheads and whale sharks. Dolphins accompany us on our safety stops, turtles swim over the coral reef and massive schools of jacks patrol the drop-off… I don’t have a favourite but these are some of the many places where I feel most connected to nature.
What does being a Craghoppers Ambassador mean to you?
Being a Craghoppers Ambassador is a direct way to create awareness and interest in why we need to protect the planet. Again the simple equation, awareness leads to education and that is the foundation of conservation. I hope that through the images, reports and blogs I can continue to reinforce what most people already know and inspire new generations to take up the challenge that as individuals we can all make a difference for the future.
The Galapagos Islands provide endless opportunities for taking part in a range of exciting activities, from snorkelling with turtles and sea lions to cliff jumping into lagoons. Before you set off on your adventure, there are plenty of factors to consider. In our Galapagos Islands travel guide we’ll talk you through some key information including […]