Founded in 1995, the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) was and is the only UK charity working solely for the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. It is committed to protecting the environment of the Galapagos, supporting scientific research, monitoring human impact, restoring ecosystems and educating people on conservation and sustainability.
The trust works in partnership with Ecuadorian authorities, NGOs, local communities and researchers, both in the Galapagos and the UK to support conservation programmes and to deliver community outreach across the archipelago. Some of their current projects include reintroducing land iguanas to Santiago Island, restoring the wildlife on Floreana island, making Galapagos free from plastic pollution and supporting research to protect vulnerable sharks, to name a few.
The Galapagos Photography Competition has been run by the GCT since 2001 and the competition, sponsored this year by AQUA-FIRMA, celebrates the rich beauty of the Galapagos Islands whilst also raising awareness of the environmental issues that affect the wildlife and communities who live there.
The categories this year included: Animal Behaviour, Landscape, Underwater, Up Close and Personal, Urban Life and Environmental Threats. GCT also launched a new Young Photographer competition for anyone aged 17 or under. The 2019 overall winner was Joe Sullivan with his image titled ‘Reflections’ – a captivating black and white shot depicting a Galapagos giant tortoise retreating inside its shell and submerged in water.
Jonathan Green, founder of the Galapagos Whale Shark Project, joined professional photographer, Tui de Roy as a judge for this year’s competition. Commenting on the winning image Green said: ‘The reflections are superb and the fact that the face is partially hidden provokes curiosity. Black and white gives it added strength’.
In addition to the winners selected by the judges there will also be a public vote held later in the year to identify the ‘Public’s Choice’. A selection of the winning and short-listed images will feature in the GCT’s 2020 calendar, and will also be displayed at the Royal Geographical Society as part of the GCT’s Galapagos Day on the evening of 30 October 2019.
The Galapagos Day event will be hosted by wildlife expert and award-winning writer Mark Carwardine and will examine some of the threats to the endangered birds and reptiles of the Galapagos. Speakers will include GCT partner Juan Pablo Muñoz-Pérez who will be sharing his research on plastic pollution and marine vertebrates, including Galapagos green turtles, and GCT partner Dr Luis Ortiz-Catedral who will explore the challenges of reintroducing locally extinct species such as the Floreana mockingbird and Galapagos land iguanas, back to their original islands. Finally, Sophia Cooke will talk about the impact of invasive species on endemic animals such as Darwin’s finches.
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