Posted by: galapagosinc | March 10, 2010

Fascinating facts about the Galapagos Islands!

Perhaps no other place has had a greater impact on the way we understand life. Although made famous by Charles Darwin, the Galapagos Islands, even today, offer an extraordinary array of flora and fauna. The following offerings contain a myriad of facts and trivia about these famed islands and their surrounding waters.

  • The Galapagos Islands take their name from the saddleback tortoises that are found there. These tortoises are among the world’s largest.
  • These volcanic islands are an archipelago located in the Pacific Ocean, roughly six hundred miles from western Ecuador. There are thirteen main islands in the chain and more than a hundred smaller islands and islets.
  • The chain’s oldest island is thought to have been formed approximately ten million years ago.
  • The islands constitute an Ecuadorian province and are part of that country’s national park system. Ecuador strictly regulates tourism in the area.
  • More than sixty volcanic eruptions have been documented over the last two hundred years in the Galapagos region.
  • During the nineteenth century, whaling ships were a common sight in Galapagos waters. Sperm whales once swam in large pods around the islands.
  • Today, orcas can be seen hunting sperm whales in Galapagos waters. Orcas also feed on Galapagos sea lions, sharks, and rays.
  • Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, was so fascinated with the islands that he wrote a series of essays about them in his work The Encantadas.
  • Charles Darwin was twenty-six when he first saw the Galapagos Islands. His observations about life on the islands eventually led to his famed theory of evolution. His On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection was published in 1859.
  • Darwin Island, one of the main islands in the archipelago, is named for the naturalist.
  • There are thirteen species of Darwin’s finches endemic to the islands. As noted by the great naturalist, these birds are famous for their beaks.
  • The islands’ marine iguanas are only found in the Galapagos region. These are the only marine-going lizards found anywhere in the world.
  • The notorious scolopendra centipede lives on the islands and frequently dines on lava lizards and even young rats. These creatures grow to about thirty centimeters.
  • The famous Galapagos penguin is the only type of penguin to live at the equator. An endangered species, there are less than 1500 examples according to scientific studies.
  • Poisonous manzanillo apple trees are native to the islands. Both their fruit and sap are toxic.
  • The islands and their waters are a World Heritage Site. Conservation is an ongoing project for the region.

Rustic Girls, Young

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