From: Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
To: Cocos island, Costa Rica
See how everyone has been contributing to the mission.
We’re challenging you to swim, walk, run, cycle, or wheelchair the length of the proposed Galapagos-Cocos Swimway route – 1125km or 700 miles - to raise money towards our vital work. To join in head to bit.ly/GCTSwimwayChallenge.
The Galapagos-Cocos Swimway is a vital migration highway that follows the Cocos Ridge connecting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador with Cocos island, Costa Rica. Galapagos Conservation Trust has been supporting the creation of the proposed Galapagos-Cocos Swimway protected area since 2018 by helping our science partners gather important evidence needed to drive forward the creation of this 240,000 km2 route, which is critical for conserving endangered Galapagos marine species.
The event will launch at the start of our 2021 Galapagos-Cocos Swimway expedition on 5 May 2021 where our science partner Dr Alex Hearn, founder of MigraMar and professor at the University of San Francisco in Quito, Ecuador, and an expert team of scientists are gathering evidence to support the protection of this vital Swimway. They will start in Costa Rica, travel down to Cocos Island National Park and down the Swimway to the Galapagos Islands. They will then follow the same route we have set for the challenge back to Cocos Island National Park, before disembarking in Costa Rica.
Why is it important?
Every year, 100 million sharks are killed by humans. Endangered sharks such as scalloped hammerheads and whale sharks are under threat from overfishing, bycatch and ocean pollution. The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) is home to the highest concentration of sharks in the world. It is a crucial location for critically endangered scalloped hammerheads and is one of the only places globally where large numbers still reside. Many of the sharks found in the GMR are migratory, including whale and hammerhead sharks.
Recent studies by GCT’s project partner, MigraMar, have found that at least five endangered marine species – whale sharks, leatherback turtles, green turtles, silky sharks and scalloped hammerhead sharks – travel between Galapagos and Cocos island, Costa Rica, along the Galapagos-Cocos Swimway. It follows the Cocos Ridge, an underwater mountain range that species follow to migrate between the two UNESCO World Heritage sites. “The Galapagos-Cocos Swimway is a vital artery in the network of biodiversity hotspots that we are fortunate enough to share here in the Eastern Pacific,” said Dr Alex Hearn. Once these marine species move outside of the protected waters of the GMR, they are extremely vulnerable to industrial and illegal fishing. As part of Galapagos Conservation Trust’s Endangered Sharks of Galapagos programme, we have been supporting the need to protect the proposed Swimway since 2018. We are helping our science partners gather essential evidence needed to drive forward the creation of this 120,000 km2 protected area.
The wildlife using the Swimway also face threats from plastic pollution, with 8 million tons of plastic entering our ocean each year, and climate change, which is causing ocean temperatures to rise, currents to become disrupted and weather systems to change.
We want to use this challenge to raise awareness of the threats facing marine life in the Eastern Pacific, as well as raise money to help to protect them.
Keep up to date on social media using the hashtag #GCTSwimwayChallenge and via the comments and updates to the right.
£4,411 raised since 5 May 2021.
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