The strict environmental regulations of the Galapagos Islands make it one of the most protected places in the world. The islands are so sacred that when you fly in, flight attendants spray the overhead bins in planes to make sure passengers aren’t transporting any non-native insects. So when park authorities discovered Celebrity Cruises was transporting frozen lobster out of season, what they consider to be a violation, they temporarily revoked the company’s permit to cruise through the islands.
In a statement, the cruise line says they were cited “for transportation and storage of 12 kilograms of frozen lobster tails in the Galapagos.” A spokesperson tells USA Today, the cruise line has paperwork to prove the lobster was purchased in the Galapagos from authorized sellers during the lobster season, but the problem is they were in possession of the lobster tail out of season. The Celebrity Xpedition’s June 2 sailing was canceled, and additional sailings could be impacted.
Celebrity is providing full refunds, including airfare, to affected passengers, plus a cruise credit offering 50 percent off a future cruise. The company anticipates their license will be restored shortly, and said they are committed to complying with the rules and regulations of the Galapagos.
Google’s Street View technology is a fantastic tool for those who love to travel. The service, which is integrated into Google Maps, gives us the chance to take a virtual tour of places that range from our hometown to some of the more iconic places around the globe. For instance, over the past few years, Street View has allowed us to visit Mt. Everest, the Amazon and the Great Barrier Reef, all without ever leaving home. Last week, the Internet search giant announced that it will soon add the Galapagos Islands to that list, giving us a glimpse of one of the most naturally diverse locations on the planet.
Located 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands are best known for being the place that inspired Charles Darwin to write his seminal work “On the Origin of Species.” It was that book that first explored the concepts of evolution and the idea of natural selection. Darwin’s book would go on to change the way we think about the world around us and how different species adapt to it. The Galapagos served as his living laboratory while he observed his Theory of Evolution in action for the first time.
Working directly with the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and the Galapagos National Parks Directorate (GNPD), Google sent a team of hikers to trek the Galapagos with its Street View Trekker strapped to their backs. The Trekker is a specially designed backpack with 15 integrated cameras that captures a destination from all angles as the wearer hikes through the environment. Over the course of ten days, the Google Team visited ten unique locations in the Galapagos capturing thousands of images as they went. Those locations included beaches, forests, the crater of an active volcano and even under the ocean.Over the years, the Galapagos have become an incredibly popular destination for travelers. The hundreds of unique species that live there continue to fascinate visitors more than 175 years after Darwin first set foot on the islands. But all of the travelers who go there are also a threat to the fragile ecosystem that exists in this isolated corner of the globe. Google, the CDF and the GNPD all hope that this project will help educate the world about the islands while also spreading the word about how important it is to preserve them.
The Galapagos Islands will be added to Street View later this year.
When noted beetle eater Charles Darwin arrived at the Galapagos Islands to survey the local flora and fauna, he was so enthralled with the giant tortoises that he just had to ride them. And, as was his custom with newly encountered species, he also ate many of them. He named the unlucky James Island specimens as the tastiest tortoises in the land.
You can (obviously) no longer take such liberties with the giant reptiles of the Galapagos. And while they never made for great transportation they’re great photo subjects. Take this old gal for example, dramatically photographed by Flickr user m24instudio. She seems to communicate with that one eye all of the existential gravity of the slow-motion tortoise lifestyle.
Traveling with a giant, professional camera isn’t always the best option. Some amazing photos and videos have been made on cellphone cameras, including the video above that Miguel Endara shot solely on an iPhone 4S while on his honeymoon in the Galápagos Islands. The short film not only captures some of the most famous species on the islands – including the cobalt flippers of the Blue-footed Booby, the domed shell of the giant Galápagos tortoise and the highly adapted marine iguana – but it also demonstrates the impressive evolution of cellphone camera technology.
Serving as a base camp for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to track mountain gorillas, travelers venture out on custom designed itineraries through some of the most beautiful jungle in the world, as we see in this video: