The Galapagos Science Center performs health evaluations on 36 turtles as support to The Galapagos National Park prior to their release

The objective of this activity was to evaluate the health status of the specimens so that the Galapagos National Park Direction could carry out the reintroduction to their natural habitat, ensuring their survival.

In previous years Greg Lewbart, adjunct faculty member of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and professor of veterinary medicine for aquatic animals at N.C. State University led this process that seeks to know if individuals are healthy enough to survive and prosper.

On this occasion, the activity was led by Soledad Sarsoza, wildlife veterinarian and coordinator of the GSC microbiology and molecular biology laboratory, under the constant guidance of Lewbart, who could not be present due to the global emergency caused by COVID-19.

Sarzosa has done and conducted evaluations of several species of animals in Galapagos, but this one in particular has had a special meaning, “It is a great responsibility to be in charge of these medical evaluations and to collaborate with the Galapagos National Park,” said Sarzosa. “I am very happy to be part of this process.”

Prior to the repatriation of the individuals, a multidisciplinary team made up of people from the GSC and GNPD worked together in the medical evaluation of the 36 specimens, which included taking morphometric measurements, temperature, heart rate, as well as blood tests and feces to rule out the presence of parasites or other diseases.

Finally, during the last days of September, 14 park rangers were in charge of releasing the turtles. With this group are added 75 individuals repatriated from the “David Rodríguez” Breeding Center since 2012.


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In 2022, the Galapagos Science Center (GSC) and the broader UNC & USFQ Galapagos Initiative will celebrate its 10th Anniversary. We are proud to announce the World Summit on Island Sustainability scheduled to be held on June 26–30, 2022 at the Galapagos Science Center and the Community Convention Center on San Cristobal Island.

The content of the World Summit will be distributed globally through social media and results documented through papers published in a book written as part of the Galapagos Book Series by Springer Nature and edited by Steve Walsh (UNC) & Carlos Mena (USFQ) as well as Jill Stewart (UNC) and Juan Pablo Muñoz (GSC/USC). The book will be inclusive and accessible by the broader island community including scientists, managers, residents, tourists, and government and non-government organizations.

While the most obvious goal of organizing the World Summit on Island Sustainability is to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the GSC and the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, other goals will be addressed through special opportunities created as part of our operational planning of the World Summit.

For instance, we seek to elevate and highlight the Galapagos in the island conservation discourse, seeking to interact with other island networks in more obvious and conspicuous ways to benefit the Galapagos Islands, the UNC-USFQ Galapagos Initiative, and the world. We will seize the opportunity to further develop the I2N2 – International Islands Network-of-Networks. Further, we wish to highlight and emphasize multiple visions of a sustainable future for the Galapagos Islands and we cannot do this alone. Therefore, engaging the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Government Council of Galapagos, the Galapagos National Park, and local Galapagos authorities, including government and non-government organizations and local citizen groups, is imperative.

The Galapagos Science Center on San Cristobal Island, Galapagos

Borrowing from Hawaii’s and Guam’s Green Growth Program and the Global Island Partnership, we wish to examine existing global programs that emphasize island sustainability and their incorporation into life, policies, and circumstances in the Galapagos Islands. We will also seek to enhance our connections with the institutional members of our International Galapagos Science Consortium and expand the Consortium through the recruitment of other member institutions. We will also work to benefit islands and their local communities by working with citizen groups as well as important NGOs who seek to improve the natural conditions in the Galapagos and diminish the impact of the human dimension on the future of Galapagos’ ecosystems.

Lastly, we will use the World Summit to benefit UNC & USFQ and our constituencies through a strong and vibrant communication plan about the World Summit, creating corporate relationships as sponsors, identifying funding goals through donors, and benefiting our study abroad program for student engagement in the Galapagos Islands. We plan to develop and issue a Galapagos Sustainability Communique after the World Summit that includes the vision and insights of all its participants for a sustainable Galapagos with applicability to global island settings.

We are eager to hear your perspective and have you join us at the World Summit on Island Sustainability!