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World Wetlands Day: Protecting the Mangroves of the Galapagos

02 Feb 2017, Posted by Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel in Galapagos Islands Blog

Today we celebrate World Wetlands Day! February 2nd marks the anniversary of the Ramsar Convention. On this day, a treaty was signed in which 162 countries pledged protect wetlands all over the planet. The List of Wetlands of International Importance from earlier this year included 2,231 Ramsar Sites, covering over 2.1 million square kilometres. The country with the highest number of Sites is the United Kingdom with 170, and the country with the greatest area of listed wetlands is Bolivia, with over 140,000 square kilometres. Here in Galapagos, we recognize the essential role that wetlands play in the ecosystem both globally and locally.

World Wetlands Day: Recognizing Our Commitment to the Environment

The Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel is committed to protecting and preserving the wetland habitats of Galapagos: the mangrove forests. The hotel’s internal gardens and paths are planted with buttonwood mangroves. The beach areas surrounding the hotel includes a mixture of red, white, and black mangroves.

Mangroves are renowned for their ability to grow in near-permanent or permanent bodies of water and/or extremely high levels of salt (thriving in water 100 times saltier than most trees can tolerate). Galapagos mangroves are particularly remarkable due to their age. These trees grow from volcanic floor with limited nutrients and therefore grow very slowly; any developed mangrove habitat in the islands is most likely thousands of years old.

Thanks to the Finch Bay’s initiative and dedication, more than 500 mangroves have been planted in the area as part of a reforestation program.

The gardens and paths of the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel are planted with buttonwood mangroves.

The gardens and paths of the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel are planted with buttonwood mangroves. The bark is thick and has broad plates of thin scales which are gray to brown. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple and oblong. They are dark green and shiny on top, and paler with fine silky hairs underneath, and have two salt glands at the base of each leaf.

Mangrove forests are essential for the local ecosystem of the islands. The nutrient rich environment provides an ideal breeding ground for animals as diverse as penguins, rays, fish, turtles, and even sharks. The physical structures of mangrove roots also provide protection from predators for animals, and limit the impact of tides and waves, reducing the strength of the latter by up to 75%.

At the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel, one can learn and see al four species of mangroves: its gardens are predominantly buttonwood mangroves (part of a long-term reforestation plan), while the other species can be seen only a few feet away, framing a lovely beach. A short walk west of the hotel will you to a calm bay with lofty mangroves, where every morning and evening herons flock to and from their roosting areas. There’s also some great opportunities to see mangroves and learn more about them over in the Western Galapagos Islands aboard the Galapagos cruise Santa Cruz II, with excellent viewing opportunities to be had over in Fernandina Island, Tortuga Bay and Northern Floreana.

Join us in celebrating World Wetlands Day! The best way is to come see these unique and beautiful plants for yourself at the Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel.

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