Ten years ago, I was very lucky in the Galapagos. I have documented an event that will certainly leave an indelible mark on the islands. At first, I had no idea what was going on. I thought it was a miss contest or something, because the young girls had a sash over their shoulders. To the end, I understood that the people of the Galapagos were celebrating that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee had granted the request of the Ecuadorian Government in July 2010 and removed the islands from the list of endangered areas.

The very next morning, we witnessed in the port what that actually meant. A small ship swam in, two pickup trucks backed up, one loaded with harpoon-shot crawfish and the other with huge groupers caught in the same way. When I sorted the script in my head when I got home, I realized that it needs distance and return. It took me ten long years to decide.

I am here now. It’s after the safari and I’m sitting on a bench in the centre of Puerto Ayora. There’s a seal under my feet. I look at the street, dotted with restaurants, bars and shops, which has changed beyond recognition over the last ten years. The state of marine life has also changed beyond recognition. I have a feeling that more than 70% of the animals have disappeared from the water. I don’t want to make hasty judgments, I’ll wait until I get home and compare the footage ten years ago with what I filmed now. But honestly – I’m afraid of it. 

What is positive, however, is what the seal that lies at my feet also symbolizes. The coexistence of humans and animals on land is exemplary. This is also confirmed by the situation that took place on the ship, when moored in front of Darwin Island. Many birds perched on the railings of the ship. When I went to film them, they just reluctantly scooted as I walked through the narrow passage between the deck and the railing. But neither of them flew away. Or. Upon arrival on Isabela Island, the pier was densely populated with seals. If we wanted to get from the ship to the island, we had to literally cross them. The female only raised her head for a moment and continued to laze. Her cub was not disturbed for a moment while drinking milk. This is the world of Galapagos. The iguanas are roaming the streets, and finches, that captivated Darwin, are fearlessly pouncing on remains of humans on all the islands, raising the question of whether their coexistence with humans will affect their beaks and whether in a few years all finches on the islands will have the same beaks? Luckily, Darwin was already here.

But more in the movie.

Text: Jaroslav Blaško
Photo: Ladislav Krumpál