Galapagos Field Report

February 2007

Local Pilot Training: Aerial Surveillance of the Galapagos Marine Reserve

Sea Shepherd Galapagos kicks off its Direct Action Control & Surveillance (DACS) training program in 2007 by providing USD$5,000.00 to train Galapagos native, Juan Francisco Carrillo, a local pilot to get him one step closer to his commercial pilot's license. This is a requirement of the Galapagos National Park before pilots can provide aerial patrols of the Galapagos Marine Reserve with its Sea Wolf amphibious surveillance plane. Sea Shepherd Galapagos received a letter of appreciation from the Director of the National Park for supporting efforts to provide continued aerial surveillance of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.

Galapagos National Park Amphibious Sea Wolf Class aerial surveillance plane

The Galapagos Marine Reserve (GMR) is the third largest marine protected area in the world and is a declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations. Recognized as one of seven underwater wonders of the world, the GMR is home to over 25 different shark species and covers an area of 144,000 square kilometers. Aerial surveillance is essential to cover this vast area and protect it against industrial shark finning poachers that continually invade the Galapagos. The surveillance patrols also provide environmental monitoring and search and rescue operations.

"Sea Shepherd has supported the Galapagos National Park control and surveillance operations for the past five years including a donation of a 95-foot former U.S. Coast Guard ship Yoshka (aka Sirenian). Training is an important part of the effectiveness of any control and surveillance operation, and our program not only includes sponsoring courses but we will also look to invite international experts to provide training to the local park rangers," states Sea Shepherd Galapagos Director Sean O'Hearn-Gimenez.

A major aspect of Sea Shepherd's training program is in helping local residents excel and become effective stewards of the Galapagos Islands. In many instances, there are not enough experienced personnel available in the Galapagos and institutions are forced to hire personnel from mainland Ecuador. The pilot training course will provide a Galapagos resident with classroom theory in topics such as technical regulations, communications, instrumental navigation, meteorology, cabin resource management, basic and advanced instrument maneuvering, flight plans and performance, and also includes over 25 hours of hands on flight time in a Cessna 172 and simulator.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Sea Shepherd Galapagos to help instill environmental leadership in local residents so they can effectively participate and take ownership in the patrolling and conservation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve," states O'Hearn-Gimenez.

Juan Francisco Carrillo waiting for training instructor