Galápagos Islands (World Heritage), they were the first selected natural heritage by UNESCO. Visit behealthybytomorrow.com for beautiful Ecuador.
Due to its exceptional wildlife was C. R. Darwi n there in 1835 an important impetus for the development of his theory of evolution. The remote islands have unique endemic flora and fauna, including the world-famous giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches.
Galápagos Islands: Facts
|Official title:||Galápagos Islands National Park and Marine Reserve|
|Natural monument||10 million year old island world with a land area of 7,882 km² in the border area of three tectonic plates; 12 volcanic islands, including Isabela (4,588 km²), Santa Cruz (986 km²), Fernandina (642 km²), Santiago (585 km²) and San Cristóbal (558 km²); 1835 residence of the “father of evolution”, Charles Darwin; since 1959 national park with a size of 7665.14 km²; since 1986 Galápagos Marine Resource Reserve (GMRR) of over 70,000 km², 1990 within the GMRR whale sanctuary|
|location||Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, 1,000 to 1,300 km west of Ecuador|
|appointment||1978; Due to increasing tourism and unauthorized settlements, the islands were on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger from 2007 to 2010|
|meaning||a “living museum of evolution”|
|Naming||Turtle island (Spanish »galápago«, »turtle«); in the 16th century also known as “Las Islas Encantadas”|
|Flora and fauna||625 plant species, 36% of these species only thrive on the Galápagos Islands; more than 250 introduced plant species around human settlement; among the 57 bird species, 13 species of Darwin finch such as the mangrove finch; 11 endangered subspecies of the Galápagos giant tortoise, around 50,000 Galápagos fur seals; 298 species of fish and – as “dinosaurs of the island world” – marine iguanas and land iguanas|
»Enchanted islands« that changed the worldview
There they lie, close together, pre-worldly miniature dragons with thorny heads and long, prickly tails. Their bizarre exterior merges with the dark, torn lava underground on which they are basking. Only the hissing sound with which they squirt a highly concentrated salt solution from their nostrils from time to time gives them away. These marine iguanas are the only lizards in the world that – as a result of their adaptation to the originally almost plantless islands – get their food from the sea. Their tails, which are pressed together at the sides, give them an excellent drive while swimming; strong claws ensure a secure hold in the surf zone; with sharp teeth they grate seaweed off the rocks. They excrete any excess salt they have absorbed through the salt glands. The observations of these “black goblins of darkness,” as Charles Darwin called them, when he visited the Galápagos Islands, contributed to his publication “The Origin of Species Through Natural Selection” years later – this work shook and changed that Worldview at that time sustainable. When the volcanic islands formed about ten million years ago, they were nothing but bare, hostile lava mountains isolated in the sea. But over millions of years spores, seeds, plant seedlings, small and large animals were washed ashore or carried away: by ocean currents, storms, birds or rafts from uprooted trees. that years later he published »The Origin of Species through Natural Selection« – this work shook and changed the worldview of the time. When the volcanic islands formed about ten million years ago, they were nothing but bare, hostile lava mountains isolated in the sea. But over millions of years spores, seeds, plant seedlings, small and large animals were washed ashore or carried away: by ocean currents, storms, birds or rafts from uprooted trees. that years later he published »The Origin of Species through Natural Selection« – this work shook and changed the worldview of the time. When the volcanic islands were formed about ten million years ago, they were nothing but bare, hostile lava mountains isolated in the sea. But over millions of years spores, seeds, plant seedlings, small and large animals were washed ashore or carried away: by ocean currents, storms, birds or rafts from uprooted trees.
Only those who could adapt quickly to the strange living conditions had a chance. A flock of South American finch birds, driven onto the islands by a storm, made their home on the islands of the archipelago. Today, depending on how they adapt to the food source, these birds show the most varied beak shapes in all transitions: from the very thick, powerful beaks of the Great Ground Finch, which are suitable for cracking the hardest seeds, to the fine, tweezer-shaped wood warbler finches, which are used for the Insect trapping are trained. The woodpecker finch has even learned to poke insect larvae out of tree bark with a cactus stinger.
The shell shapes of the giant tortoises also differ from island to island. Giant tortoises with evenly shaped, dome-shaped shells live on the islands of the archipelago, the peaks of which are covered by constant fog with a dense rainforest. These turtles easily reach the abundant ground plants on which they feed. The turtles that populate the dry islands with thin vegetation, on the other hand, have longer legs and a saddle-shaped back that is arched high at the neck so that the long neck can be stretched far up to reach the shoots of the tree opuntia. “Until then, I would not have thought it possible that islands that are within sight of each other could be populated so differently,” marveled Darwin. The climatic conditions also contribute to this, which are caused by the stark temperature differences between the cold and warm ocean currents, the Humboldt Current and the warm currents from the Gulf of Panama. Who expects penguins at the equator? The small Galápagos penguins only survive not far from the cold ocean currents in shady lava caves that offer protection from overheating.
Flightless cormorants also nest in the area of cold ocean currents. When, like cormorants, they spread their wings after the dive to let them dry in the sun, they only show short, stubby wings. In an environment without predators, their wings have receded in favor of better diving and swimming behavior.
There is so much to see here: sea lions playing in the wave troughs, courting frigate birds, whose males inflate their imposing red throat pouches, and elegant wave albatrosses that seem weightless and sail through the air for hours without a single flap of their wings. Elsewhere, marine iguanas doze on the lava rock, yellow land iguanas search for opuntia fruits, giant tortoises leisurely trudge around, red-footed boobies look for suitable nesting sites. Galápagos resembles Noah’s Ark, and the name »Las Encantadas«, »the haunted«, given by early seafarers to the islands, is still fitting today.