Ecuador names rich new Ramsar site in the Galápagos Islands

Ecuador names rich new Ramsar site in the Galápagos Islands

31 October 2002
Ecuador

The Bureau is very pleased to announce that Ecuador has designated its 9th Wetland of International Importance for the Ramsar List, as of 17 September. The Humedales del Sur de Isabela (872 hectares, 00°57'S 090°58'W) is an area of coastal and marine wetlands, including the Poza de Los Diablos and other small ponds as well as the beaches, mangroves, and shallow marine waters of the Bahía de Puerto Villamil on Isabel, the largest of the Galápagos islands. An extremely rich area in terms of its biodiversity, the site, on islands of recent volcanic formation, has a high number of endemic species, many of which are listed as vulnerable or endangered in the IUCN Red List: the Lava gull (Larus fuliginosus), for example, the Galapagos penguin (Spheniscus mendiculus) and Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus californianus wollebacki), the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and Green sea urchin (Lytechinus semituberculatus), the marine iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and the sea cucumber (Stichopus fuscus). Moreover, the site sustains more than 22.5% of the endemic subspecies Galapagos flamingo and significant proportions of a number of native fish species. Nearly all of the site falls within the Parque Nacional Galápagos, and human uses include tourism, non-commercial fishing among the local population, and the raising of such introduced mammals as goats, pigs, and cattle. The potential proliferation of introduced species, particularly of rats, cats, the African kikuyu grasss, and the invasive tree frog Scinax quinquefasciata since 1998 (the first amphibians in the islands), is noted as a cause for concern. This is Ramsar site number 1202, so the Convention now has 1201 sites on the List. [30/10/02]