The Galapagos Islands are labeled a World Heritage Site because of their unique biodiversity and inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, with 97 percent of their landmass protected as a national park.
How the Galapagos Shark Sanctuary Began
Due to the wide variety of marine life in the Archipelago, the government of Ecuador decided to create a marine sanctuary around Darwin Island and Wolf Island in the Galapagos, thereby protecting the world’s greatest concentration of sharks. The new sanctuary includes 15,000 square miles within the existing Galapagos Marine Reserve. From an economic perspective, a 2015 report found that sharks also have an immense value to tourism, which greatly outweighs their value to the fishing industry.
Tourists travel from all over the world to visit the Islands and dive to see the sharks. More than 34 different species of sharks can be found in these waters.
The Value of Keeping Sharks Alive in the Galapagos Shark Sanctuary
A recent National Geographic Pristine Seas Project study found that on average, a live shark has a value of $5.4 million over its lifetime, contributing to the Galapagos’ $186 million annual earnings from tourism and diving, according to an article on the National Geographic website. On the contrary, a dead shark will only earn $200 for the fisherman.
These protection efforts are particularly targeted to protect the numerous species of endangered sharks that inhabit the region, including the hammerhead. The marine reserve serves as a shark sanctuary, protecting an area that has the world’s greatest number of sharks.
Some Galapagos Cruises offers the opportunity to do Scuba Diving Tours,
depending on your experience you can choose the right itinerary for you.