Introduced Plants and Animals

Galapagos now has more introduced plants and animals than endemic ones. There are 750 introduced plants and 500 endemic species. Obviously, this has led to an exodus of the unique flora and fauna. The blue-footed boobies and marine iguanas that used to be part of the every day street life have now moved away from the towns. Cats and dogs are not allowed into the islands; only the ones that are already present can stay. Yet every year, there are more new breeds. Popular are the huskies for their blue eyes, despite the fact that it’s a polar dog. Purebred dogs are being smuggled in and sold to breeders who supply to the local human population. The owners discard their old none-purebred dogs like a broken toy. These unsterilized dogs end up roaming the streets, uncontrollably breeding and terrorizing the local bird and iguana populations. Sea Shepherd has been helping Animal Balance to spay and neuter the pets of Galapagos. What was supposed to be a campaign for several years until all pets were sterilized has turned into a permanent need. The uncontrolled smuggling and breeding and the unwillingness of the authorities to act against it has led to an actual incline in numbers. An additional problem is the local culture because it is considered macho to leave your dog unsterilized. Only mandatory sterilization and stricter controls on smuggling will solve this problem, Sea Shepherd is working to accomplish this.

Even though fumigation takes place on all incoming commercial flights, all the cargo ships are still transporting their insect- and rat-infested cargo to the islands without any of such measures. Most of the introduced species are being brought in this way.