The Trip of a Lifetime
from GALAPAGOS TRAVEL
Land Iguana (Isabela Island)
After visiting the Galapagos Islands, most people take with them very special feelings and memories of this magical location. There are some of us who want to go one step further - to give something back to these wonderful islands.
1994-2013 • In 1994 Barry Boyce (our company founder) and Galapagos Travel did something entirely new. Working together with the Charles Darwin Research Station in Galapagos they created the Becario Scholarship program, funding Ecuadorian students as they did research in the Galapagos Islands.
The Galápagos Conservancy and the Charles Darwin Research Station are vital partners with the Galápagos National Park, yet the station is woefully under funded; their annual budget is under $5 million, and they have 100 employees, a visitor center, tortoises to raise and care for, and baseline research to conduct.
Over the course of 19 years, 13 remarkable undergraduate students were able to conduct 18-24 month research projects in the Galápagos through the Becario program. Thesis topics ranged from tortoises, to iguanas, to cormorants or mangrove finches, to sea surface temperature changes. In our opinion, the future of Galapagos Islands is in the hands of Ecuador, and the islands need environmentally-sensitive and educated Ecuadorians such as these excellent graduate students. After graduation their paths may have taken then in different directions, but today each has a stronger voice for conservation of the Galapagos than they would have otherwise. A remarkable example of this is our second graduate student, Washington Tapia, who is currently the Galápagos National Park senior official responsible for CONSERVATION AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT. Sr. Tapia also served as interim Park Director in 2005.
In late 2013 the Becario program was retired. At this time the CDRS simply doesn't have the manpower to administer the program or supervise new students. Read the Charles Darwin Foundation's final report here..
Low Impact Tourism
GALAPAGOS TRAVEL is dedicated to preserving the ecological integrity of the Galapagos Islands. We promote sustainable low impact tourism and feel that nature-oriented tourism should remain as the main economic activity of the Galapagos. Further, we perceive that the truly unique and rich natural resources of the Galápagos are threatened by commercial fisheries and by introduced species of plants and animals. For a detailed description and analysis of these problems, we refer you to information offered by the Galápagos Coalition. We feel that a necessary condition to support the growth of future tourism is increased protection for the islands and its natural resources. This protection refers to both legislative action and the enforcement of these laws. To this end, GALAPAGOS TRAVEL was a founding member of the INTERNATIONAL GALAPAGOS TOUR OPERATORS ASSOCIATION. The mission is to have a unified, strong voice - one that will be heard by the world press, the concerned public, and the Ecuadorian government.
GALAPAGOS TRAVEL also helps fund a local chapter of the Scouts. The Nueva Era Scout Foundation provides conservation education and recreation activities to local boys and girls in San Cristobal - a first in Galápagos. Over the past 10 years activities in collaboration with the Charles Darwin Research Station have included numerous service projects like beach clean ups, mural painting, and organizing and installing trash cans throughout the malecon (waterfront park). Their English language courses continue to surpass everyone's expectations, with hundreds of students since 1999, ranging in age from 3 to 50! Like all of their projects, English classes serve as a medium for messages of conservation and the importance of Galápagos. Their conservation message also reaches the local community through a New Environmental Awareness Center. During the summer of 2000 they inaugurated Cinema Paraiso - with several hundred members of the community of San Cristobal in attendance, they screened movies on the weekends under the stars and next to the crashing waves.
At Home in California
GALAPAGOS TRAVEL supports a number of local and national organizations and groups as well, from the Monterey Bay Aquarium to the Marine Mammal Rescue Center, Long Marine Lab, NRDC, Santa Cruz Natural History Museum, Desert Turtle and Tortoise Society, etc... Volunteerism is also supported in the staff, with paid time off to volunteer or with matching donations.
For 16 years Debbie volunteered at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, including over 13 years inside the penguin exhibit. More recently she was part of the Sea Horses team.
Causes close to Julie's heart are outwardly at odds with each other; cats and fish. For years Julie has been a supporter of Project Purr - a local feral cat rescue group. More recently she has also been volunteering her time at a wild salmon and trout fishery in the nearby mountains (no doubt repairing her karma for all the time she spends fly fishing).
Mark's volunteer time is more often than not spent on a bicycle. The California AIDS LifeCycle is a 550 mile charity bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which he has ridden 6 times. Mark also volunteers with the Santa Cruz AIDS Project, where he is past board member, producing and directing events or crewing on their own Surf City AIDS Ride century. Mark has also been a volunteer several seasons with US Fish & Wildlife Service working on Midway Atoll on the annual albatross count (it's a lot harder than you might think to actually count roughly half a million nests each year!)