The Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands (CDF) is an international not-for-profit organization that provides scientific knowledge and technical assistance to ensure the conservation of the Galapagos Islands. Founded under the auspices of UNESCO, the Charles Darwin Foundation has studied the fragile Galapagos biotope since 1959 and is the leading scientific adviser to the Ecuadorean Government on the preservation of this stunning archipelago and first natural World Heritage Site. When something as irretrievable as Galapagos is under threat, it is a matter of concern to us all. That is why IWC Schaffhausen is proud to support the extraordinary work of the Charles Darwin Foundation.
Unique and mysterious, the landscape alone is enthralling. The coastal terrain of blackened lava fields and bare, scorched slopes host cacti, muyuyo and fragrant sandalwood trees. In the highlands, the climate is moist and cool, shrouding the peaks in soft mist. These volcanic islands were spewed from the submarine depths of the Pacific some four million years ago and have never been linked to the South American continent. Nearly 1,000 kilometres separate them from the mainland. Their extraordinary fauna arrived by arduous journeys, mostly not of their choosing. And it was anything but a soft landing: the jagged lava demanded major feats of adaptation from survivors of the long passage by air or via cold oceanic currents. Those that made it became specialists in adapting to this breathtaking yet hostile environment.
The result was an animal and plant ecosystem unique in the world. Three-quarters of the animals living on the Galapagos exist only here. The Galapagos tortoises, Darwin’s finches and marine iguanas are indigenous species that live nowhere else on earth. Sea lions feel at home in the cool water, while flamingos, turtles and iguanas bask on the warm, dry land. The underwater habitat is no less unusual than the land. Squadrons of rays patrol the shimmering turquoise coves, while sea turtles propel themselves forward with smooth strokes, like lumbering angels.
—The case of the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands has a vulcanised rubber coating
Galapagos would arguably no longer exist as a laboratory of evolution if the Charles Darwin Foundation, established 50 years ago, had not taken up the fight to conserve the archipelago’s unique ecosystem. Today, more than 100 scientists, students and volunteers are conducting a continuous research-based awareness campaign on Galapagos to reconcile ecology and economic interests with one another. Yet the area is constantly under threat: from human settlement, from the introduction of foreign animal species, from overfishing and from climate change. In addition to this, much of the effort put in by the worldwide network involves fostering an appreciation of ecotourism and increasing the inhabitants’ awareness of the need to protect what they love. It amounts to a profusion of tasks and challenges on a chronically tight budget. Since 2009, when the scientific world celebrated the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth, IWC Schaffhausen has been one of the patrons and guardians of this jewel. IWC supports the work of the Foundation with a sizeable contribution generated by proceeds from the sale of its Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands diver’s watch.
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