Press Releases

Two years on from worst oil spill in country’s history. DARWIN200 aboard tall ship Oosterschelde to reach Callao, Peru.

DARWIN200, a two-year planetary conservation mission aboard the magnificent tall ship Oosterschelde, is in Callao and the Bay of Ancón Peru between 23rd – 31st March 2024 for conservation research and youth leadership programmes.

Callao is the 12th of 30 ports to be visited during DARWIN200, a 40,000+ nautical mile voyage and conservation mission. The DARWIN200 Global Voyage is retracing young Charles Darwin’s famous journey on HMS Beagle and aims to change the world for the better by empowering 200 next-gen conservation leaders.

During the visit, DARWIN200 will be visiting sites and working on projects with local experts on the coastal strip between Callao and Chancay that was devastated in January 2022 by an environmental disaster that saw close to 12,000 barrels of crude oil spill into the Pacific Ocean.

The largest-ever oil spill in Peru was described by President Pedro Castillo as the “worst ecological disaster” in recent memory. It covered an area of about 106 sq km (40 sq miles) – the size of Paris – and inflicted significant harm on one of the planet’s most abundant marine ecosystems, killing thousands of birds, fish, turtles, otters, and other sea mammals.

Isabel Calle, Executive Director of the Peruvian Society for Environmental Law (SPDA) shares an update on the current situation “More than two years after the spill, less than half of the economic and environmental rehabilitation cases are being reviewed by the authorities. The lack of order in the submission of the rehabilitation plans, as well as the delay by the Ministry of Energy and Mines in evaluating them, is extremely worrying. This situation is harming the marine ecosystem and local communities whose livelihoods depend on having a healthy ocean. At SPDA, we believe that this situation has highlighted a serious shortcoming in our system. Environmental issues need to be made a priority in our country. The state needs to urgently evaluate the rehabilitation plans, take necessary action, and implement measures quickly and rigorously.” Click here for the full statement.

[For a recount of the oil spill from January 2022 to date please click here]

Darwin Leaders: Young conservation leadership programme in PERU

n each port of the DARWIN200 global voyage, small groups of ‘Darwin Leaders’, selected from around the world for their outstanding achievements in conservation, join the program for a week-long immersive conservation leadership training programme. Two hundred in total will take part over the two-year expedition. Working alongside local conservation experts, each Darwin Leader uses the ship as their base camp and goes into the field to study a species of animal, plant or an ecosystem, assesses its population status and how it has changed over the past two centuries, learns about conservation initiatives currently in place to protect it and develops their own ideas on how to better conserve the chosen species in the future. 

The intention is that each Darwin Leader will be empowered with new ideas, skills, and experience that will have a positive impact on the work they are already doing in their home countries and inspire their future careers in conservation.

Six Darwin Leaders from Panama, Brazil, Ecuador, and the United Kingdom will join the expedition in Peru. They will be embedded with local conservation organisations and experts to study:

On the previous Leg 11 of the voyage, in the Port of Talcahuano in in Chile, Darwin Leader Gonzalo Daniel Caceres from Peru, joined the ship to work with Andrea Cisterna Concha, Centro de Mastozoologia Marina on the challenges for conservation of the sea otter (chungungo) in Caleta Chome.

Darwin Leaders and their projects in Talcahuano and Valparaíso, Chile are

Darwin Leader: Thiago Costa, Brazil
Project: Sustainable Octopus fisheries
Guiding expert: ConCiencia Marina, Ancón


Darwin Leader: Maria Carmona, Panama
Project: The future of sustainable fisheries after the 2022 oil disaster
Guiding expert: Conciencia Marina, Ancón


NGO: ConCiencia Marina
ConCiencia Marina is an association dedicated to implementing high-impact initiatives for environmental protection, development, and management, with a focus on marine resource sustainability and social engagement. Through their research efforts, they aim to address challenges within the coastal marine ecosystem, involving various social actors to catalyze positive change. With a deep understanding of the significant deterioration experienced by the coastal marine ecosystem in recent decades due to human activities, ConCiencia Marina is committed to developing projects that contribute to the sustainability and conservation of these vital ecosystems

Percy Munayco, Director, ConCiencia Marina says “In the bay of Ancón, there is a historic cove of artisanal fishermen who, after an environmental disaster, have shown their resilience and perseverance to face the unexpected changes they had to confront. We will learn about the efforts implemented by a community of divers to engage in responsible octopus fishing and also about the actions of the community to adapt to the conditions after the spill. We are very excited to know that Darwin 200 will be in Ancón and that the knowledge of the fishermen will be shared.” 


Darwin Leader: Cisne Zambrano, Ecuador

Project: The protection and cultural value of the Giant Manta in Northern Peru

Guiding expert: Kerstin Forsberg with Planéta Oceano


NGO: Planeta Océano is a non for profit organization that strongly works to conserve and restore coastal and marine environments, with special focus on Peru. It promotes and develops research, environmental education & awareness and sustainable development initiatives; engaging stakeholder and community participation throughout all efforts.

Kerstin Forsberg, Planéta Oceano says “We are very excited to collaborate with Darwin200 and Darwin Leader Cisne Zambrano on our flagship project to conserve giant manta rays. The giant manta ray is an endangered species which is exposed to entanglement with fishing nets along its migratory range. Working alongside a Darwin leader from Galapagos, we hope to showcase the importance of manta conservation and help advance efforts to mitigate bycatch for this transboundary species”.


Darwin Leader: Alex Marshall, United Kingdom

Project: The Cock of the Rock National Bird of Peru 

Guiding expert: InkaTerra Asociación, Machu Picchu


Darwin Leader: Matheus Leao, Brasil

Project: The Blue Headed Macaw 

Guiding expert: InkaTerra Asociación, Amazon Field Station


Darwin Leader: Naia Andrade, Ecuador

Project: Protecting the Amazon rainforest  / Vanilla Orchid research

Guiding expert: InkaTerra Asociación, Amazon Field Station


NGO: InkaTerra Asociación: Self-funded through ecotourism, Inkaterra Asociación is a non-profit organisation committed to scientific research as a basis for biodiversity conservation, education and the wellbeing of local communities. Since 1978, Inkaterra Asociación has produced major flora and fauna inventories to measure its impact over its areas of influence in the Amazon rainforest of Madre de Dios, the Machu Picchu cloud forest, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, the city of Cusco and the Cabo Blanco tropical ocean, desert and dry forest.

Adventure seekers can sail the ship

The general public can sign up to sail the magnificent tall ship Oosterschelde between ports alongside adventure travellers and environmental researchers, who are tasked with steering, navigating and manning the ropes of the three-masted topsail schooner under the guidance of a professional crew. People ranging from 11 to 86 years old and of more than 25 nationalities have signed up to take part as guest crew on the voyage. The voyage legs range in duration, from a single day, to the longest being an epic 5,300 nautical miles and taking 48 days to Cape Horn. Previous sailing experience is not always required for those wanting to join.

See more information on dates, costs and availability at

The World’s Most Exciting Classroom

In continuation of Charles Darwin’s work aboard HMS Beagle, the DARWIN200 ship offers a unique platform to support research into many of the world’s most critical environmental problems. This includes eight engaging research projects, featuring real-time data feeds, informative results presentations, interactive online lectures, and insightful interviews with the talented teams of researchers driving each initiative. Four research projects will be undertaken aboard the tall ship Oosterschelde while it is sailing, the other four will be undertaken in the ports that we visit. Through these research projects, DARWIN200 aims to captivate global audiences, particularly students, enabling the public to delve into and gain deeper insights into some of the world’s most critical environmental challenges.

DARWIN200 Founder and Mission Director Stewart McPherson says: 

Charles Darwin was only 22 when he set sail on his life-changing voyage in 1831, famously saying that it was by far the most important event in his life, determining his whole career. We wanted to create a similarly transformative experience for members of the public and 200 of the world’s brightest young environmentalists, who have the potential to be the STEM and conservation leaders of tomorrow and the catalysts to change the future of planet Earth for the better

With a focus on practical solutions, each project will delve into actionable measures and ways in which we can all play a role in addressing these issues, working together to build a more promising and sustainable future.

About the ship Oosterschelde

Oosterschelde is a three mast tall ship, and one of the world’s finest, fully restored historic tall ships and the largest sailing vessel ever to be restored in the Netherlands.

She is registered by the Dutch Government as a monument of great cultural and historical value. The ship is one of the oldest and most authentic ships in the international fleet of Tall Ships. Oosterschelde relaunched after a major refurbishment in 1996 and was recommissioned by Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of The Netherlands. She is a bastion of Dutch ship building and is described by the ship’s Director and Captain Gerben Nab as having had at least five lives, starting in 1917 as a cargo vessel. Over the past 30 years Oosterschelde has welcomed thousands of sailors and adventure seekers on board including royalty, politicians, presidents and pop stars, even once hosting a birthday party for Sir Tom Jones!

Oosterschelde was the first Dutch commercial tall ship to sail to both the north and south poles and successfully tackle the infamous Cape Horn, a rocky headland on Hornos Island, in southern Chile known for its hazardous waters. During the pandemic when the world was locked down, a team of Dutch ship builders worked tirelessly to elevate Oosterschelde to the next level in preparation for DARWIN200. As part of the DARWIN200 voyage Oosterschelde will once again navigate Cape Horn, considered the Mount Everest of sailing.

Oosterschelde’s Director and Captain Gerben Nab says,:

The history of the ship and the passion of our crew tell a story that gets under the skin of all who sail aboard her. Not only in Europe, but also in South America, in Africa, in Asia and Australasia. Oosterschelde’s restoration for many was deemed an impossible dream. But not for Dick van Andel who was a young man of just 27 years in age whose vision and enthusiasm saw the dream realised with the efforts and support of many others. We have proven that it is possible to do something outside the box and make it into a success. Connecting to the Darwin200 project, we hope to empower that project in the same way, and show ‘the world’ that with a clear vision and spirit of adventure it is possible to achieve the impossible


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The DARWIN200 mission is an official contributor to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. The Global Voyage carriers The Explorers Club flag #101.

DARWIN200 patrons and supporters include Dame Jane Goodall, Dr Sylvia Earle and Charles Darwin’s great-great-grand-daughter, Dr Sarah Darwin

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