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Tourists try to smuggle protected species out of Galapagos Islands

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Quito, Jun 14 (EFE).- Ecuadorian authorities arrested seven foreigners after finding a total of 1,313 processed sea cucumbers inside their luggage, the Galapagos National Park Service said Friday.

Airport X-ray scanners detected "strange packages" inside the baggage of the seven passengers boarding a flight to mainland Ecuador, the park management said in a statement.

The tourists were taken into custody and will faces charges.

The sea cucumber is a protected species included in Appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, of which Ecuador is a signatory.

Galapagos is home to 37 species included in CITES' appendices.

Sea cucumber fishing is authorized in certain seasons, depending on the results of a population study and under strict controls, park management said.

Located roughly 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off the coast of continental Ecuador, the Galapagos archipelago comprises a marine and land reserve covering 132,000 sq. kilometers (50,965 sq. miles).

The islands, which were declared a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 1978, were made famous by 19th-century British naturalist Charles Darwin, whose observations of life on the islands contributed greatly to his theory of evolution and natural selection.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/agencia-efe/130615/tourists-try-smuggle-protected-species-out-galapagos-islands