Since its discovery in 1535, the Galápagos archipelago has fascinated researchers and visitors from all over the world. In an effort to preserve its lush and biodiverse ecosystems, Ecuador has recently created an extensive new marine reserve north of the islands.
The new reserve, called Hermandad (Spanish for “brotherhood”), forms a Pacific corridor as far as Cocos Island National Park in Costa Rica and serves to protect sea turtles, sharks, and other migratory species.
Spanning an area of more than 20,000 square miles, the reserve is an addition to the already existing 50,200-square-mile Galápagos Marine Reserve that has been under protection since 1998, reports EcoWatch.
The creation of the new marine reserve is a “clear message for the world,” said Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso, who described the reserve as a “new relationship with the Earth, a new understanding of what constitutes progress for humanity.”
According to Phys.org, the Galápagos archipelago is a Natural World Heritage Site that hosts over 2,900 marine species, a number that has greatly impressed Charles Darwin when he explored the islands and reportedly said that “… by far the most remarkable feature in the natural history of this archipelago… is that the different islands to a considerable extent are inhabited by a different set of beings…”
There are now plans from the governments of Panama and Colombia to expand the protected areas around the Galápagos archipelago, eventually creating an international marine biosphere reserve. Currently, industrial fishing is banned in the Galápagos Marine Reserve, which is the second-largest in the world.