South Plaza Island Closed for Rat Eradication

The Galapagos National Park Service announced yesterday that it will close South Plaza Island to tourism from November 17 to December 17th this year, to carry out a rat eradication campaign there.

Besides the small rice rat (not present on South Plaza), other rats are not native to Galapagos.  The black and norway rats were introduced as early as the 17th century, when various ships began stopping in Galapagos in the search for fresh water or food.   Highly invasive, these rats represent a major threat to many native Galapagos species, including ground nesting birds (rats will kill and eat chicks), baby giant tortoises below the age of 2 or 3 years (they will also be eaten) and various other species. Because the also climb trees, rats are also predators of tree nesting eggs and chicks.

Eradicating rats from an island (e.g. making sure you leave not even one rat alive) is a very tough job.  The Charles Darwin Research Station has developed various techniques designed to ensure that only alien rats are targetted, and that do not harm other wildlife. The Park Service with the support from the Station have successfully eradicated rats from other small islands - and now it's South Plaza's turn.

If South Plaza was on your itinerary during this time, you will instead be taking a panga ride around the island, and do some snorkeling there.