Last updated at 15:24 BST, Friday, 16 May 2014

Galapagos environmental emergency

Summary

16 May 2014

The government in Ecuador has declared an emergency in the Galapagos islands. A ship carrying petrol which got stuck on the rocks last week may still carry a threat to the island group's plants and animals.

Reporter:
Mattia Cabitza

A tortoise on the Galapagos islands

Darwin discovered the shells of giant tortoises that varied in shape and size from island to island in the Galapagos

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The petrol tanker became stranded off the island of San Cristobal on Friday. But despite having emptied the ship's cargo, the authorities fear that some remaining pollutants, like motor oil, could spill over and cause environmental damage.

They said they're working to remove the vessel. This is not the first ship accident in the Galapagos. In 2001, another stranded petrol tanker spilled fuel and decimated marine life.

The Galapagos are home to unique animals such as the giant tortoise, the marine iguana and the flightless cormorant. The archipelago is also known for its endemic finches, which were studied in the 1830s by the British scientist Charles Darwin. He went on to publish On the Origin of Species, his revolutionary book on evolution.

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Vocabulary

tanker

large ship designed to carry gas or liquid

stranded

stuck; unable to leave somewhere

cargo

things carried by ship, truck, train or plane

vessel

large boat or ship

decimated

damaged or destroyed a lot of something

iguana

a large lizard of tropical America

flightless

not able to fly (usually used to describe birds that cannot fly even through they have wings)

endemic

very common in a particular place

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