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Galapagos Marine Reserve
The Marine Reserve has an extension of 133 thousand square kilometers, which makes it one of the 10 largest in the world, which is also one of the best underwater diving destinations in the world.
The marine protected area comprises 40 miles from the base line of the archipelago’s boundary islands (coastal end), outwards, and also inland waters.
However, this sector of the country was not always protected. The first actions for their protection are recorded in the 1974 Land Management Plan, which recommended the protection of a 2 nautical mile marine strip around each island. Subsequently, in 1986, marine conservation gained momentum with the declaration of a Marine Resource Reserve, whose objective was to control the illegal practice of fishing and the overexploitation of marine resources.
It was not until 1998, when the Organic Law of the Special Regime for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Galapagos (LOREG) expanded the marine protected area and created the Galapagos Marine Reserve. In 2001, the UNESCO Heritage Committee recognized the enormous ecological, cultural and economic value of the GMR and included it as a World Natural Heritage Site, promoting the conservation and maintenance of the unique species that inhabit it.
Galapagos ecosystems cannot survive without the protection of marine and coastal environments. Many native and endemic species depend entirely on the sea and on the evolutionary and ecological processes that occur on land but are directly related to the sea. Penguins, cormorants, sea lions, albatrosses and countless other birds live on land, but feed exclusively on the sea. In the ecosystem of the Marine Reserve, more than 2,900 existing species have been reported, of which 25% are endemic marine organisms. There are 24 species of marine mammals such as whales, dolphins and sea lions present, of which 2 are endemic.