A ship stranded off the coast of the Galapagos could pose a real danger to nearly coastlines and the marine environment. The country of Ecuador has declared an emergency in the incident.
The cargo ship Galapaface 1 became stranded off the islands while it was ferrying supplies of diesel fuel. The 19,000 gallons of petroleum product has been safely removed from the wreck, but environmentalists are concerned that fuel used to power the ship could still leak into the water. There may be up to 1,100 tons of pollutants still left on the ship, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Galapaface 1 ran aground near San Cristobal Island. Rocks and sand in the area cracked the hull of the ship, and are currently blocking efforts to access the wreckage. It has been more than a week since the ship became stranded on 9 May.
The government in Quito announced they will attempt to remove the ship from where it is grounded. Such a move is deemed to be the best way to remove possible threats to the regional environment.
"The ship is stranded and continues to present an environmental risk for the Galapagos Marine Reserve and must leave the area," Jorge Torres of the Ecquadorian government stated in a press release.
The Galapagos Islands are are home to a wide variety of species. The chain lies 625 miles off the coast of Ecuador. It is also a major tourist attraction.
In 1831, Charles Darwin landed in the Galapagos Islands while on his famous journey aboard the HMS Beagle. The giant tortoise and marine iguana are among the unusual animals found in the islands. Darwin later developed his theory of evolution, partly inspired by finches he discovered on the island chain.
"During his visit to the islands, Darwin noted that the unique creatures were similar from island to island, but perfectly adapted to their environments which led him to ponder the origin of the islands' inhabitants," according to the GalapagosIslands.com.
Ships have become stuck in the waters off the Galapagos several times in the past. An oil tanker named Jessica ran aground in the island chain in 2001. The incident resulted in the release of petroleum into the marine environment, severley damaging marine iguanas in the area. Populations of many other species in the Galapagos also suffered during this incident.
Conservationists still do not know how long it could take to clean up the mess from the grounding. The state of emergency announced by Ecquador was requested by officials in the Galapagos, and was announced by Environmental Minister Lorena Tapia.