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20 Interesting Things You May Not Know About The Galapagos

20 Interesting Things You May Not Know About The Galapagos

Well-known for its numerous wildlife and breathtaking landscapes, the Galápagos Islands is among the most original, fascinating, and numerous locations you possibly can go to on earth. These famed islands, situated 620-miles (1000-km) off the coast of Ecuador, supply an unparalleled pure expertise that also ties again to Darwin’s work and pure choice principle.

To find extra of this widespread vacation spot typically rating excessive on vacationers’ bucket lists, right here I’ll share with you 20 fascinating and lesser-known details about this spellbinding paradise.

1. Galápagos is 97% a Nationwide Park

The Galápagos islands are primarily one big nationwide park generally known as the Galápagos Nationwide Park. It covers 97% of the 18 islands and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Website.

Solely 4 of the islands are inhabited by individuals: Santa Cruz, Floreana, Isabela, and San Cristobal – with an general inhabitants of 28,000 individuals.

Every island has animal and plant species which might be endemic to them and never discovered anyplace else on the planet, not even on the opposite islands within the Galápagos.

To enter the Galápagos, it is advisable to pay an entrance charge, as you do in lots of different nationwide parks all over the world.

Giant tortoise in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

An enormous tortoise in Santa Cruz Island.

2. The Islands are Named after the Big Tortoises that Inhabit them

The identify Galápagos comes from the previous Spanish phrase for saddle, a reference to the tortoise’s shell. The big tortoise might be the long-lasting species of the Galápagos.

These big, but mild creatures can stay as much as 170 years and weigh 595 kilos – making them a number of the largest kinds of tortoises on the planet. The Galápagos tortoise can retailer meals and water so effectively that it could actually go for as much as a yr with out consuming or consuming – as an alternative, it breaks down its physique fats to supply water, when wanted.

Up till his demise in 2012, the Galápagos Islands have been house to Lonesome George, the only remaining Big Pinta tortoise on the planet. Whereas his precise age shouldn’t be sure, it’s estimated he reached from 90 to 100 years of age.

three. The Islands are One of many First UNESCO World Heritage Websites

In the course of the first World Heritage nominating conference in 1978, twelve properties have been positioned on the inaugural listing of World Heritage websites – together with the Galápagos Islands as one in every of them. Based mostly on the numbering conference utilized by UNESCO, the Galápagos Islands are quantity 2, whereas Quito, Ecuador is number one.

Tortuga Bay in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Tortuga Bay in Santa Cruz

four. You can Journey the Islands on any Price range

Individuals assume the Galápagos is an unique getaway for luxurious vacationers, however the fact is you could journey it too with a backpacker’s price range. Whereas it’s true that with a much bigger finances you would hop on a cruise and attain the distant islands of the Galápagos, with a small price range you’ll be able to nonetheless see the primary islands and most of the smaller islands shut to those.

On this submit, I share how I traveled Galápagos with a backpacker’s finances.

5. No, Darwin Didn’t Uncover the Islands

Lots of people assume Darwin found the islands, however that’s not right. Although Darwin landed on the island of San Cristobal on September 1835, that they had already been found in 1535, or at the very least first recorded, by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the fourth Bishop of Panama. They have been correctly mapped 35 years later underneath the identify of “The Island of Tortoises.”

6. Darwin Didn’t Come Up with the Principle of Evolution, Both

Whereas Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) is popularly accredited for inventing the idea of evolution, it was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744 – 1829) who first proposed the idea of the transmutation of species, the primary absolutely shaped principle of evolution, within the early 19th century. Darwin, although, posited the thought of pure choice after analyzing the 14 finch species he noticed on the island.

Moreover, the Galápagos additionally impressed Darwin to formulate his different groundbreaking concept, The Construction and Distribution of Coral Reefs. This concept postulated how coral atolls are shaped by way of the sinking of volcanic mountains. Which leads me to…

The view from Bartolome Island in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The “it” view of Galapagos as seen from the highest of Bartolome Island.

7. These Younger Islands are Always Altering

The oldest island within the Galápagos, Espanola, is estimated to be three.5 million years previous, whereas the youngest, Fernandina, is 1 million years previous. In geological phrases, these islands are toddlers. Because of volcanic motion, the oldest islands are regularly sinking again into the ocean, whereas the youngest ones are nonetheless on the rise.

eight. There are Nonetheless a Few Lively Volcanoes

As talked about earlier than, the Galápagos nonetheless has volcanic exercise. The islands are shaped by the juncture of three tectonic plates: the Pacific, Nazca, and Cocos. This has created irregular volcanic exercise and wildly numerous landscapes that at the moment are the 18 main islands, four minor islands and 40 islets that compose the Galápagos.

Simply within the final 100 years, there have been 13 volcanic eruptions, with the newest being in May of 2015 on Isabela Island.

9. The islands By no means had a Native Human Inhabitants

Bishop Fray Tomás de Berlanga is the primary recorded individual to have set foot on the islands in 1535 when he by accident landed there en route from Panama to Peru.

After this, the islands nonetheless had no everlasting settlers for hundreds of years because it was principally used as a base by sailor in search of recent meals and water. The first semi-permanent resident was a marooned Irishman named Patrick Watkins, who stayed on Floreana Island from 1807–1809.

The first everlasting residents didn’t arrive till Ecuador took management of the archipelago in 1832. Now there are over 28,000 residents.

Sea Lions in Galapagos, Ecuador

10. Animals have Little Worry of People or different Predators

Because of this historic lack of individuals on the islands, most wild animals there haven’t any pure worry of people. Consequently, the Galápagos has strict guidelines in place to assist shield each the animals and their habitats.

Equally, some animals have advanced uniquely because of the lack of predators of their habitat – just like the Flightless Cormorant. This chook is endemic to the Galápagos and it’s the solely cormorant on the earth that doesn’t have the power to fly.

Because it by no means wanted to fly from predators, it advanced to grow to be the most important of all cormorant species, but its wings stayed barely one-third of the dimensions they must be to have the ability to fly.

11. It’s Now Nearly Unattainable to Transfer there Completely

Whereas shifting to Ecuador completely is feasible with the fitting visa, the Galápagos are usually not included in any visa and residency program. Actually, not even mainland Ecuadorians can simply transfer to the Galapagos anymore.

This residency freeze started after the inhabitants and tourism grew exponentially, to the purpose the place social and ecological issues threatened the islands.

It wasn’t till the UNESCO put the Galapagos on their listing of endangered World Heritage Sights, resulting from overcrowding, that officers tightened their immigration legal guidelines in 2009. UNESCO eliminated their endangered standing in 2010.

Penguins, Galapagos

12. The Islands are House to the Solely Penguins on the Northern Hemisphere

The Galápagos Penguins are the one species of penguins to stay north of the equator – even when it’s barely one diploma north. They’re the second smallest species of penguin (out of 17), and naturally, they’ve developed distinctive strategies of thermoregulation to adapt to heat climate, like strolling on land with their flippers over their delicate ft to stop them from getting sunburned.

They’re sometimes discovered on the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina, although a couple of colonies are discovered inside the central islands and Floreana Island.

Marine Iguana in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The distinctive marine iguana of the Galapagos.

13. The Solely Marine Iguanas within the World are Discovered right here

Not surprisingly, even iguanas have advanced in a different way right here. These marine iguanas within the Galápagos are the one recognized lizards that may swim and feed virtually solely on seaweed. It’s believed they initially arrived on the islands clinging onto particles from South America that reached the islands by way of the Pacific Ocean.

Marine Turtle in Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

14. Swimming with “Dinosaurs”

As some of the historic species on the islands, the inexperienced sea turtle is believed to have swum the ocean and walked the seashores together with dinosaurs.

15. There’s Equal Hours of Day and Night time, Yr-round

On account of its location proper on the Equator, the Galápagos Islands have an equal 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night time all through the whole yr.

16. It All the time has a Snug Temperature, Although

You would assume that the Galápagos are all the time blazing scorching as a result of its location proper on the equator, however the fact is that the temperatures truly keep fairly snug all year long. Land temperature averages vary from 79 to 86 levels Fahrenheit, whereas water temperature averages 71 to 78 levels Fahrenheit.

Baltra Airport, Galapagos

17. It Was a US Army Base

Earlier than WWII, there was no runway or any air visitors on the Galápagos, however that modified when america established an air base on the island of Baltra to assist defend the Panama Canal from the Japanese.

After the conflict, the air base was handed to the Ecuadorian authorities, which ultimately turned it into what’s the airport at this time. That runway you arrive on if you fly to Baltra was initially constructed by the US army.

18. It Additionally Was a Pirate Hideout

Many pirates used the Galápagos as a well-located hideout for his or her loot and a supply of meals because of the variety of big tortoises roaming on the islands on the time.

Post Office Bay, Galapagos

19. The Islands are House to a Very Uncommon Postal System

Sailors within the 19th century arrange a picket barrel on Floreana Island to behave as a makeshift postbox to permit them to speak with family members at residence. They would go away letters within the barrel so different sailors might decide up the letters addressed to these of their house port and hand ship them.

This was not essentially a quick service, as letters might take years to succeed in their vacation spot. This barrel is now often known as Publish Workplace Bay, and the custom nonetheless continues, with vacationers leaving and delivering letters to individuals of their respective cities.

20. Grasp and Commander was the First and Solely Hollywood Function Movie to be Shot there, to Date

Aside from documentaries, just one Hollywood function movie has been filmed within the Galápagos. The movie Grasp and Commander: The Far Aspect of the World (2003) was partially shot on location and was the primary Hollywood function movie that had permission to shoot there.

The solely different two films with the excellence of filming within the Galapagos have been accomplished in 1966 and 1972 earlier than it turned a UNESCO World Heritage Website.

For Grasp and Commander, whereas the manufacturing labored with the nationwide park, they weren’t granted any exemptions to the park guidelines. This implies they needed to stick with the paths and carry their gear by hand.

20 Interesting Things You May Not Know About The Galapagos-Pin


Penguin photograph and submit workplace photograph from Flickr Artistic Commons. This publish was produced in collaboration with Movie star Cruises. As all the time, all opinions are mine.

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