Tsunami severely damages Charles Darwin Research Station

The world’s attention is rightfully focus on the ongoing tragedy unfurling in Japan. Earthquake aftershocks continue to cause damage and the Fukushima nuclear power plant is not yet under control. But the tsunami the struck the Japanese coast continued across the Pacific, and while no place was as hard hit as Japan, there were other casualties, including the Charles Darwin Research Station on the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz.

The tsunami hit the island at high tide on March 11, and the resulting 1.7 meter flood destroyed essential equipment and shut the research station down for the foreseeable future.

“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.”


No one was injured and Lonesome George, the iconic Galapagos tortoise was moved to safety before the flooding began. You can donate directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation to help repair the station.