Paul Schicke
Written by Paul Schicke Senior Expedition Designer

Updated: May 11, 2023
Published: August 08, 2017

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Dr. Godfrey Merlen, Galapagos Ambassador

We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Godfrey Merlen, a friend of Quasar, and a champion of the Galapagos. Godfrey passed on May 10th, 2022, but will always be remembered as one of the most respected ambassadors in the islands and he dedicated his life to their conservation. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his almost 50 years of tireless work in helping make Galapagos a better place for both the wildlife and the people of the Islands. Quasar will forever honor his legacy by continuing to work towards a more equitable and sustainable Galapagos. Rest in peace, dear friend, and thank you for your service to the Enchanted Islands.

Known as an eloquent and tireless advocate for important conservation issues, Godfrey Merlen played a pivotal role in the protection of the Galapagos Islands. Originally from the UK, he moved to the Galapagos more than 50 years ago to work as a volunteer researcher. Since then, he worked for the National Park Service and other conservation agencies to positively and dramatically affect the state of flora and fauna throughout the islands.

Godfrey Merlen’s Background

Before Merlen moved to the Galapagos he worked in the fishing industry in England when he decided that his life needed to take a new turn. At the time, he’d been reading about biodiversity and the many issues that were currently facing nature environmentally. Enticed by its association with Charles Darwin, Merlen decided to head to the Galapagos in order to truly discover what biodiversity was all about.

Once he arrived he started volunteering at the Charles Darwin Research Station. Here he fell in love with the station's library and being able to work closely with scientists who spent months out in the field. Occasionally, he was allowed to join the scientists on field trips and his fascination with the Islands was born.

Godfrey Merlen standing next to the Charles Darwin Statue in the Galapagos Islands

Merlen’s Legacy & Impact in the Galapagos

Over the past 50 years, Godfrey Merlen made a substantial impact to protecting the special wildlife and eco-system of the Galapagos. Some of his notable contributions include:

  • Helping to establish the Galapagos Whale Sanctuary.
  • Aiding in the establishment of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
  • Documenting natural history and the discovery of new species.
  • Working to develop the Special Law for the Galapagos.
  • Fighting illegal fishing in the Galapagos.
  • Working with Sicgal and the Galapagos National Park to prevent more invasive species form being introduced to the islands.
  • Using his paintings and images to raise awareness for conservation issues.
  • Publishing three books on Galapagos wildlife.
A conservation hero for the Galapagos Islands, Dr. Godfrey Merlen

Godfrey Merlen worked with Sicgal and the Galapagos National Park to prevent more invasive species form being introduced to the Islands. It was an issue that he believed to be particularly pressing and threatening to the fragile Galapagos environment.

To read more on how the Galapagos Conservation Fund is working with Godfrey Merlen to control invasive species, see their website.

Paul Schicke
By Paul Schicke
Senior Expedition Designer

Hello! My name is Paul. I am a photographer, traveler, teacher and writer. I have extensive experience in travel to Galapagos, Peru, Patagonia and the western seaboard of South America specializing in ways travelers can experience these once-in-a-life destinations like locals on the road. Lover of wine, chocolate, travel, coffee, and helping others plan vacations of a lifetime!

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