BY Ryan Swift on 18 Apr 2023

A new coral reef found in the Galapagos gives hope for new marine discoveries as the islands grow into a superyacht destination

Researchers have discovered a new coral reef approximately two kilometres long at 400 metres depth near the Galapagos Islands. Reuters reported that the pristine reef is estimated to be thousands of years old and located on the top of an underwater mountain. The reef has more than 50% living coral and is said to have abundant marine life.

Scientists had thought that the only coral reef to survive in the Galapagos was the Wellington Reef, the rest having died off due to El Nino weather in 1982-83.

“This is very important at a global level because many deepwater systems are degraded,” Reuters reported Stuart Banks, senior marine researcher at the Charles Darwin Foundation, as saying.

Aqua Mare in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a major tourism destination and have become a hot spot for superyachts wanting to catch sight of its unique biodiversity.

Read: Aqua Expeditions founder Francesco Galli Zugaro on yacht charter in the Galapagos

In 2022, Ecuador expanded the marine reserve around the Galapagos by 60,000 square kilometres, increasing the size by nearly 50% from the 138,000 square kilometres that were already protected. Half the area is designated as “no-take”, prohibiting any sort of fishing activity, while the other half is for long-line fishing only.

In March 2023, the Ecuadorian government said it had secured US$150 million to manage the enlarged marine reserve for the Galapagos, but that it was also “open” to blue bonds to help provide additional financial resources. Blue bonds are used to raise funds that help protect ocean spaces, often by funding new businesses that don’t rely on harmful fishing practices.

The Seychelles used blue bonds to help make the island nation a leader in ocean conservation. Marine tourism through such activities as yachting and yacht-based tourism, is a key element in supporting ocean conservation.

The Galapagos Islands have seen increased tourism traffic, which has itself become a source of danger to the unique ecosystems that were once researched by Charles Darwin. In 2000, there were 69,000 tourist arrivals to the islands, according to the Galapagos Tourism Observatory. By 2019, one year before the onset of Covid-19 restrictions, there were 271,000 arrivals. In 2022, there were just 58,000 arrivals.