On Sunday marine ecologist Pelayo Salinas was on his way back from a 12-day research mission on a Galápagos National Park patrol ship when at 6 a.m. the captain spotted a vessel on the radar. Access to these waters is restricted, so they radioed the vessel to find out what it was up to.
No response. Salinas, who works with the Charles Darwin Foundation, and a Ecuadorian Navy officer who was also on board tried again. Still no response. They warned the vessel that the law requires them to respond. Silence.
Then Salinas and three others jumped in a 13-foot inflatable boat that had been donated to the park and took chase. They’d identified the vessel as Chinese and strongly suspected it was involved in illegal fishing.
This part of Galápagos National Park—a marine sanctuary where absolutely no fishing is allowed—has the greatest abundance of sharks known in the world. It’s this that has made these waters a target of fishermen looking to supply Asian markets with shark fin and shark meat.
Photo: Dag Peak/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)