January 26, 2001
We’ve been casting an anxious eye on last week’s oil spill in the Galapagos Islands and, just in, is the first cruise-disruption report. Andre Barona, general manager of Canodros, which operates the 100-passenger Galapagos Explorer II, says impacted islands were not part of the ship’s itinerary but one week's worth of cruises was canceled (more because of the ship’s pitching-in-and-volunteering-to-help efforts than anything). Regularly scheduled cruises are resuming on Wednesday. The oil spill occurred on Tuesday, January 16, when the tanker Jessica ran into a group of rocks near the entrance of the bay at San Cristobol island. The Galapagos Archipelago, some 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, consists of thirteen large islands, six small ones, and more than 40 islets, spread over 4,897 square miles of land. It’s considered a habitat for some of the world's rarest marine and bird species. Because much of the 144,000 gallons of spilled oil have been, thanks to a lucky wind shift, drifting away from inhabited areas, damage is controlled. Environmentalists have said that oil has been confined to a very small area and has not yet, adversely impacted the flora, fauna and sea creatures that inspired Charles Darwin’s “Survival of the Fittest” theory based on a visit there. In other environmental news, a Greek tanker spilled 5,000 gallons of oil in the Panama Canal, necessitating closure of one of the locks and delaying traffic through the canal. 35 ships a day pass through the Panama Canal and we’re currently in cruising’s primary canal-crossing season.