TSUNAMI IN THE GALAPAGOS
The devastating Japanese earthquake of March 11 created a powerful tsunami that ravaged the coastline and brought tragedy to thousands of people. The tsunami spread rapidly across the Pacific during the course of the day. Properly warned, the people of Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands (13,000 km from Japan) headed for high ground as the largest tidal surges in recorded history swept around the islands later that day. In the town of Puerto Ayora, the tides rose to 1.7 metres above their normal high-tide levels and inundated coastal areas, causing significant water damage to buildings located close to shore, and to their interiors.
The marine science building at the Charles Darwin Foundation’s (CDF) research station, located just outside of town, was seriously damaged by the wave. Equipment and materials were destroyed, seriously hampering marine conservation research capacity.
The CDF, with support from the Galápagos National Park Service, submitted a request to the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) for financial help in quickly re-establishing their capacity to carry out marine conservation work. They emphasised the need to carry out an inventory of the tsunami’s impacts on coastal ecosystems in an effort to inform potential management responses by the Galápagos National Park Service. This inventory was needed urgently, which is why the RRF was approached. The CDF’s request for $30,000 to undertake the inventory and restore the marine conservation centre to its previous working capacity was granted within the RRF’s target of eight working days.