23 March 2018

Geography students help clean up Galapagos beach during International Water Day

On Thursday 22 March a group of University of Sheffield staff and students celebrated World Water Day (Día Mundial del Agua) by cleaning up beaches and mangroves on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos, Ecuador.

Students take photos on Galapagos beach to investigate coastal processes

On Thursday 22 March a group of University of Sheffield staff and students celebrated World Water Day (Día Mundial del Agua) by cleaning up beaches and mangroves on the island of Isabela in the Galápagos, Ecuador. The clean-up was organised the Ecuadorian Navy’s Puerto Villamil Harbour Master and various local organizations, including the Isabela Outreach Initiative (IOI). Armed with rubbish bags, gloves and lots of enthusiasm, all participants collected several bags of countless bottle caps, plastics and cigarette butts.

This effort highlights how crucial it is to keep our oceans clean. Despite efforts to control rubbish in the Galapagos, waste is abundant in the shore and mangroves due to human activities including tourism. The experience demonstrated just how plastics are present even in the most isolated places of the world threatening marine life and the ecosystem. Plastics - especially microplastics not visible to the naked eye - have devastating effects on marine life. The proximity of the rubbish to iguanas and other marine life made it even more alarming. The clean-up highlights how crucial is to keep our oceans clean. Despite the efforts of the local people to control rubbish in the Galapagos, waste is abundant in the shore and mangroves due to human activities including tourism. This experience demonstrated just how plastics are present even in the most isolated places of the world threatening marine life and the ecosystem.

IOI is a partner organization for a field class for students enrolled in international development postgraduate programmes offered out of the Department of Geography, School of Health and Related Research, and School of Modern Languages. This year’s trip is coordinated by Dr. Miguel Kanai and Dr. Maria Romero González.

Text: Anna Berestova

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