Ecuador Worries Stranded Cargo Ship Threatens Region's Delicate Ecosystem
Ecuador has declared a state of emergency in the Galapagos Islands, wary that a cargo ship that ran aground last week threatens the archipelago's delicate ecosystem, reports say.
The Ecuadorean freighter, the Galapaface I, became stranded off the island of San Cristobal last Friday.
The ship's cargo has been unloaded, NBC News reported, but authorities worry that pollutants still on board could spill into the sea.
The Galapagos - located 625 miles off the South American coast - are home to various unique animal species, such as the giant tortoise, marine iguana and flightless cormorant.
More than 15,400 gallons were aboard the Galapaface I, some of which has been removed, but some pollutants like motor oil still remain inside.
"The ship is stranded and continues to present an environmental risk for the Galapagos Marine Reserve and must leave the area," governor Jorge Torres said, according to BBC News.
Ecuadorian officials hope the state of emergency will free up resources to remove the vessel.
"As a result of the emergency declaration the Risk Management Secretariat will be able to directly carry out the purchase of goods, the procurement of services and the work that are required to overcome this emergency," authorities said in a statement.
They did not say when they expect the vessel to be removed, but for the sake of the animals, they hope it is sooner rather than later.
This is also not the first ship incident to take place in the Galapagos.
In 2001, an oil tanker became stranded off the coast of San Cristobal, spilling fuel and decimating the marine iguana population.
The Galapagos region is a popular tourist attraction, and is famous for finches native to the region, which British scientist Charles Darwin studied in the 1830s.