Galapagos Rescue Moment aboard the Santa Cruz II: Saving the Islands, One Sea Turtle at a Time!

Table of Contents

A Galapagos rescue moment that we recently had managed to be an incredibly amazing and fulfilling experience. The Galapagos is a humbling place that invites you to become a part of it, serving as a living laboratory of evolution for all our guests. It’s a place that truly feels alive, inviting you to get up close to its unique fauna and otherworldly landscapes that it hosts. Being in such close contact with nature, it’s sometimes easy to forget how fragile it is and take it for granted. This time, we got the opportunity to “give back” to the islands in return for all the wonderful things it has given us. In sum: we managed to pay nature back with a pretty big favor!

Another Beautiful Day in the Magnificent Galapagos

On the second day of our Northern Galapagos Islands itinerary aboard the Santa Cruz II, we dropped anchor over at Buccaneer Cove (Santiago Island).

The first activity of the day was an extended panga ride along the coastline, looking for multiple species of unique Galapagos birds and other animals. During this activity on this particular itinerary, there are plenty of spots that we frequent where we can usually manage to glimpse some brown noddies, spot the elusive yet adorable Galapagos fur seals, and gaze at the elegant Nazca boobies and even some frigatebirds. All-in-all, it’s a great way of viewing a decent handful of our BIG15 list of iconic species. After exploring for around two hours, all our guests began returning to the ship to get ready for the second activity, which is an action-packed snorkeling adventure! This time, however, our last group of guests that was returning to the ship got a big surprise.

Santa Cruz's Guests Enjoying A Panga Ride.
A Panga Ride Is A Perfect Way To Do Birdwatching.

A Haphazard Victim of Negligence

A Rescued Galapagos Sea Turtle.
A Galapagos Sea Turtle Was Rescued By Our Guests And Naturalist Guides During A Panga Ride.

Out of nowhere, our Naturalist Guide that was in charge of this last group asked the panga driver to stop the craft, as something floating in the water had caught her attention. Because it was not moving, the panga driver was able to approach the object only to discover that it was a Pacific green sea turtle that was tangled up in some fishing line. It looked as if the turtle had given up completely as the panga pulled up next to it, as it did not swim away. As everyone got a closer look, it became apparent that the fishing line had been badly tangled around its head and fin. We instantly knew we had to do something to help this poor turtle. As it was rather difficult and awkward to work on the trapped turtle while it was in the water, Xavier (our panga driver) found his hidden strength and, in one swift motion, managed to actually lift the turtle out of the water and onto the panga!




Unable to get the turtle free with just our bare heads, our Naturalist Guide radioed for help from our nearby and beautiful expedition vessel (the Santa Cruz II). We requested a knife and some scissors, and in a matter of minutes, another panga arrived with the supplies and to help us out with this extraordinary Galapagos Rescue Moment!

A Galapagos Rescue Moment: The Santa Cruz II Goes All In

With the help of our guests and now the two panga drivers, we used our new tools to cut the line and free the turtle. It was really a group effort, and while some guests were holding the turtle down, others took pictures and video.




After a good 10-minutes of dealing with fishing line, rope, and even metallic wire that was wound up around the poor sea turtle, we finally freed the creature and quickly returned it to the water. Even though it had a couple of cuts, the turtle had a miraculous recovery and, in virtually no time at all, went back to swimming down to the depths of the sea. The experience left us all of us with a sense of accomplishment and grateful for having had the chance to help the natural Galapagos world get rid of a problem that we humans had sadly created.





The whole Galapagos rescue moment served as a sobering reminder of just how powerful our actions are in this day and age, especially in an environment as delicate as the Galapagos. Careless as we humans maybe with the waste we produce, we have a duty to correct our mistakes when it affects the natural world and be mindful of how we act in the future.

Updated:June 22, 2023

Published:February 23, 2018


Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands Tour 2024 Package: 12 days / Quito, Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu / From USD 9,598 per person