Quito, May 18 (EFE).- Ecuadorian authorities said Tuesday that it will take action against a driver who ran over a sea lion in Puerto Baquerizo, on San Cristóbal Island in the Galapagos National Park (PNG).
The Ministry of the Environment and Water said it will initiate an administrative process through the park’s Directorate based on evidence of “an alleged environmental violation,” as established by the special regulations that are applied in the archipelago to protect the unique natural species that inhabit that island region.
One of many sea lions that roam freely throughout the islands was run over by a driver on the Malecón de Puerto Baquerizo, the municipal seat of San Cristóbal, the easternmost island of the archipelago, according to the PNG.
The mammal is stable and under the monitoring of park rangers and specialists, the ministry reported in a statement.
The sea lion shows normal mobility and there is no evidence of injuries to its body, although specialists do not rule out the possibility of internal injuries.
According to images captured by video cameras, a vehicle that was driving along the Malecón in Puerto Baquerizo hit the sea lion and dragged it for about 20 meters.
“We need to understand that the responsibility for caring for the ecosystem is shared” between the environmental authority and the inhabitants of the archipelago, said PNG director Danny Rueda.
Rueda emphasized the importance of respecting the habitat of the sea lions, with which the citizens and tourists of Galapagos coexist daily.
The marine mammal belongs to the species “zalophus wollebaeki,” endemic to the archipelago. In recent years the population has declined, and it has been included in the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as an endangered species, the ministry said.
The Galapagos Islands, which were declared in 1978 a Natural Heritage Site for Humanity by Unesco, are located in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 kilometers west of the coast of Ecuador.
The archipelago, made up of 13 large islands, 6 smaller and 42 islets, is considered a natural laboratory that allowed scientist Charles Darwin to develop his natural selection theory on species evolution. EFE