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

Galapagos environmental emergency


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.

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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large ship designed to carry gas or liquid


stuck; unable to leave somewhere


things carried by ship, truck, train or plane


large boat or ship


damaged or destroyed a lot of something


a large lizard of tropical America


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


very common in a particular place

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