Fernandina eruption taking out wildlife

Fissure vent eruption from Fernandina in the Galapagos Islands.

In news that comes as a surprise to no one, the current eruption on Fernandina in the Galapagos is having some adverse effect on the wildlife in the Pacific archipelago. Numerous dead fish and sea lions have been seen in the ocean near the actively erupting volcano - now, what exactly is causing the deaths is more speculative. I would imagine with the large plume being produced by the volcano, along with the lava flows reaching the ocean, that volcanic gases and the lava's interaction with the sea water might be the leading culprit, but at this point, it is only conjecture. However, wildlife has had to deal with volcanic eruptions in the Galapagos for thousands (millions?) of years, so we shouldn't worry too much about evacuating everything just yet.

As for the large plume, the NASA Earth Observatory has a great description of how the Aura Satellite measures sulfur dioxide, along with an image of the plume itself from Fernandina. Currently, it heads quite a ways to the west of the island over the Pacific Ocean. A visual image of the plume can also be found here.

More like this

Fernandina, EcuadorFernandina erupting in 2009. UPDATE 4/13/09 at 12PM: The NASA Earth Observatory has posted a nice MODIS image showing the plume from the Fernandina eruption drifting out over the Pacific. We have a few more details on the ongoing eruption at Fernandina in the Galapagos Islands.…
Sarychev Peak in Russia erupting on June 14, 2009. Image courtesy of the NASA Earth Observatory. The transpacific air routes over the Aleutians, the Kamchatka Peninsula and the Kuril Islands are a prime location for the threat of ash to commercial aviation. Many of these volcanoes, especially on…
Some of the articles you might have missed this week ... A lava flow from Kilauea breaks local traffic laws in the Royal Gardens subdivision, Hawai'i The Mayon Watch continues in the Philippines. No eruption yet, but some of the local newspapers are printing stories talking about "odd animal…
Sally Sennert from the Smithsonian Institution sent me an email to say that this week's USGS/Smithsonian Institute Weekly Volcanic Report will be delayed due to the inclement weather in the Washington DC area. She can't connect with the server, so the report can't be updated on the Smithsonian…


From the Pagan website. "Pagan has been proposed as a marine sanctuary. The island is home to several rare species of animals including the Marianas megapode and the common moorhen."

In view of the Galapagos report, perhaps not?



Although the Island is not populated by humans, it is very sad to see that certain endemic wildlife is suffering the consequences of this volcanic eruption. I hope the Galapagos National Park make every effort to save at least some of this animal species.

Just returned from a trip around the Galapagos Islands and witnessed the eruption first-hand. It was so exquisite to see. While of course knowing that the creatures were threatened is always daunting, I am certain that tourism is a greater threat.

I wish I was on National Geographic/Lindblad's Islander right now! Lynn Fowler's description in the log for the 19th and the video (see www.expeditions.com) was fantastic! It has been over a year since I was there, and the memory of that place stays vividly alive. It is one of the harshest,most beautiful environments, and a treasure to the world. It's miracle of creation continues.

By Kim Vogee (not verified) on 23 Apr 2009 #permalink

I visited the Galapagos last summer.

I hope very much that boat owners in the Galapagos would pick up animals from the island.

The officials' position, to only monitor the environment, is not reasonable when we might lose whole sub-species of animals.

More importantly, this is a question of individual animals' lives.

When will we learn to think of animals in terms of individuals whose lives have unique value?

This lazy "philosophy" which is supposed to justify not helping animals just doesn't work.

INGALA, the local authorities, are allowing extensive hotel building.

There is no animal welfare group on the island at all.

Ingala, change policy and have animals rescued instead of sitting back and watching the show.

Local tour operator and boat owners, go ahead! The sea-lions are the same species on every island, it can do no harm to rescue them to another island. The Galapagos sea-lions are like dogs: when they see humans, they come to play.

Iguanas cannot swim far, even "sea" iguanas are cold-blooded animals that need to breathe air, and rest for a long time in the sun to recover, after going down to eat algae from the bottom of the sea.

Iguanas are incredibly friendly, relaxed, wise animals.

There are cases where hands-off policies do not work.