CNH Tours - Cultural and Natural Heritage Tours Galapagos
Sunday March 13, 2011
Charles Darwin Research Station Marine lab damaged - donate now.
(CDRS News bulletin)
In the aftermath of the tidal surges induced by the March 11th Japan earthquake and tsunami, a team of more than 20 staff and volunteers worked shoulder to shoulder to clear debris, retrieve equipment and clean laboratories, offices and storage buildings at the Marine Sciences complex of the Galapagos-based Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) and Research Station on Santa Cruz Island.
The powerful surf hit Santa Cruz with waves up to 1.77m /5.8 feet above normal according to data from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC), one of the highest readings in the Eastern Pacific. The waves also coincided with the local high tide, sending the first wall of water into the CDF installation at approximately 18:00. Two subsequent waves at intervals of 26 minutes raised the water level 1.50m/4.9 feet above the upper CDF Marine Lab dock. "The waves," stated Dr. Volker Koch, CDF Director of Marine Sciences, "completely destroyed a concrete pump house, broke through heavy wooden doors, flooded laboratories, workshops and storage facilities, and carried off furniture and equipment," despite advance emergency preparation. CDF Senior Scientist Stuart Banks observed that: "Equipment ranging from dive tanks, small boats, wooden furniture, freezers and field supplies was widely scattered. We found items in the ground floor laboratory, buried in sand and vegetation, driven 50 meters [165 feet] up the entrance trail and dispersed across a 200 meter [650 foot] radius around the mangrove-lined shore."
The first wave arrived 20 minutes after the ETA of 17:40 predicted for Baltra Island to the north of Santa Cruz. The receding wave lowered the water level in Academy Bay from full tide by more than one meter/3 feet within 12 minutes. The sea then rose rapidly to cover the CDF dock. The second ebb was stronger than the first and subsequent waves continued into the night, gradually reducing their amplitude into mid-morning of the following day.
No injuries were sustained and no other areas of the CDF Research Station were significantly damaged. Staff are in the process of damage assessment and will calculate overall losses in the coming days.
The CDRS will have to scramble to find necessary funds to bring this important facility back to operational standards. This lab is the nerve centre for a great deal of important research on wildlife in Galapagos.
For more information on the CDRS's great marine conservation work, see their website here.
For donations, please go to the CDRS Donations page here.
PICTURE: Marine biology lab's equipment, furniture is taken outside to dry. Photo: Mary Witoshynsky