Galápagos Marine Reserve
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The Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR) lies a thousand kilometres from the Ecuadorian mainland and covers an area of around 133,000 km2 (51,000 sq mi). The Galápagos Islands and the surrounding waters represent one of the world’s most unusual ecosystems and are rich areas of biodiversity. Recently granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the Galápagos Marine Reserve is the largest marine reserve in a developing country and the second largest reserve in the world.
Snorkeling and diving
In certain areas in the Galápagos Marine Reserve, it is possible for visitors to dive or snorkel, and many guests have come into contact with marvelous aquatic species which live underwater: Whales, whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, rays, manta rays, sword fish and turtles, etc. Other habitats within the GMR are the rocky seabed, vertical rock faces, sandy beaches, mangrove swamps and, to a lesser extent, coral reefs. A popular spot is Tortuga Bay on the Island of Santa Cruz where there is a separate mangrove where there are always white tip reef sharks 
Coastal lakes, moist soil and areas where freshwater and seawater mix contain unique species still to be studied. Cold, hot and warm marine currents come together here, generating a wide diversity of animal life: from small coloured fish to large mammals.; marine iguanas, Galapagos Land Iguana, galapagos crabs, Galápagos sea lion, Sharks, Blue footed boobie, swallow-tailed gulls, ducks, frigatebirds and the galápagos tortoise.
The Galápagos Marine Reserve faces a number of environmental threats. The most pressing threats to the GMR come from overfishing and illegal fishing. The legal local sea cucumber and lobster fisheries are heavily depleted and may be close to collapse. This poses dire consequences for the oversubscribed fishing sector in Galápagos, likely causing local fishermen to turn increasingly to illegal practices, such as shark finning, overfishing of tuna, and illegal export of sea cucumbers.
Pollution and development
Pollution and development pose an additional threat to both terrestrial and marine wildlife. The concurrent growth of the tourism industry and local populations means this problem will certainly increase. The population of Galápagos is growing at a rate of approximately 6% per year, more than double population growth of mainland Ecuador. The grounding of the tanker Jessica, delivering bunker fuel and diesel for tourist boats and the Ecuadorian Navy, brought world attention to the marine threats from increased human activities on the Islands.
Many international conservation and science organizations are working to protect the Galápagos Marine Reserve. Among them are the Charles Darwin Foundation and WildAid, which is working to improve the capacity of the Parque Nacional de Galápagos staff to protect the reserve from overfishing and other threats.
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- Carr, Lindsey A; Stier, Adrian C; Fietz, Katharina; Montero, Ignacio; Gallagher, Austin J; Bruno, John F (2013). "Illegal shark fishing in the Galapagos marine reserve" (PDF). Marine Policy 39: 317–321. doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2012.12.005. Retrieved 2013-03-12.