Facts About Galapagos Islands

Facts About Galapagos Islands

Did you know that the Galapagos islands are home to the fauna which were the inspiration for the all-famous theory of evolution? Read on to find out other such interesting facts about these islands.
Discovered in 1535 by a Spanish bishop and his accompanying party, and now officially known as Archipelago de Colon, the Galapagos islands are a group of thirteen large volcanic islands, and six smaller islands in the Pacific ocean, around the equator, about 600 miles west of Ecuador. It is a popular tourist spot, due to which the population on the islands has recently risen to about 40,000. Of the nineteen islands, only five are inhabited, namely Baltra, Floreana, Isabela, San Cristobal, and Santa Cruz.

General Facts

The journey has just begun. Dive in to learn about some interesting things you may not have known about these islands.
  • The Galapagos islands are now a UNESCO world heritage site, and has an ongoing conservation project, due to its exotic flora and fauna.
  • Charles Darwin, after observing the natural fauna on these islands, began research which finally resulted in the famous theory of evolution.
  • As such, one of the important islands in the archipelago, is known as the Darwin island, after the famous naturalist.
  • These islands are home to the poisonous Manzanillo apple trees, the sap and fruit of which are highly toxic.
  • The work, The Encantadas, by Herman Melville, the author of the famous Moby Dick, were inspired by the Galapagos islands.
  • These islands have a history of about sixty volcanic eruptions in the last two hundred years.
  • Though these islands are distributed around the equator, it is not as hot and humid as other equatorial islands. In fact, the water temperatures in the evenings are sometimes lower than 20ยบ C.
  • Though January to April are the wettest months, these islands are a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year. It is not very sunny in the dry season, rather it remains overcast and misty.
  • A fee of USD 100 is charged at the airport upon arrival for admission to the Galapagos National Park.
  • Unemployment is a serious problem on these islands due to the increasing population. Another major social concern on these islands is the lack of a proper education system.
  • The increasing tourism, along with illegal poaching, has also resulted in a damage to the ecosystem of the island. However, as a world heritage site, these occurrences are now being controlled.
  • All tourist visits are monitored and led by tour guides to prevent them from removing anything from the islands. A naturalist guide accompanies every tourist, and tours are carried out in boats or on foot.
  • The best activities to do on the islands are scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, kayaking, and hiking.
Animals of Galapagos Islands

So much has been spoken about the rich and exotic wildlife on the Galapagos islands. It would then be unfair not to mention a little in-depth information about it.
  • Marine Iguanas: An interesting fact about marine iguanas is that their black skin turns into a bright red in order to attract a mate. They are the only lizards that live in the ocean.
  • Land Iguanas: These land iguanas feast on the prickly pear cactus. What is mind-boggling is that they don't even need to remove the spine before eating it as they have a tough, leathery tongue.
  • Galapagos Tortoise: This species is actually a prehistoric creature, of which 3 sub-species are already extinct. Finding a mate for these creatures is becoming further difficult, which may lead to the extinction of a fourth species.
  • Marine Turtle: You will definitely come across this animal while snorkeling or diving. It is the only sea turtle found in these islands.
  • Lava Lizard: You will come across these lizards almost everywhere you go. They may have a dash of orange or red on their bodies, and in order to attract a mate, they adopt a position like that of a push-up.
Birds of the Galapagos Islands

Not only exotic animals, the islands are home to a variety of exotic birds, that you cannot miss while you are on your visit there.
  • Finches: Popularly known as Darwin's finches, it was this species of birds that set the ball rolling and had Darwin beginning his research on evolution. The islands are home to 13 different species of finches.
  • Penguins: You would think that these birds belong only to the South pole, but surprisingly they have found home on these equatorial waters too. They are most prominent in the islands of Isla Isabela and Fernandina.
  • Waved Albatross: These birds can spend months and years without touching land. You will be able to see them on Isla Santa Cruz, if you travel there any time between April and December. They take off only after they have all formed a single file, one after the other.
  • Cormorant: This is the only species in the world that cannot fly, but rather swim like a torpedo in water. You can see this bird on the west side of Isabela.
  • Frigatebird: This species of birds is very interesting. It hates to catch its own prey, and tries to distract other birds and steal their prey. To attract a mate they inflate the bright red patch of skin under their beak, and look extremely attractive.
  • Boobies: These birds can dive to depths of as much as 8 meters in the sea to catch their prey. There are blue-footed, red-footed, and masked boobies present all over the islands, and are very beautiful to look at.
For a group of islands that has a larger population of wildlife than humans, it is no wonder that it has been deemed a world heritage site. Now that you are aware of the beauty of these islands, be prepared for a marvelous joyride when you plan to visit these islands.
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