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Facts About the Galápagos Islands-Ecosystems, Fauna and Flora

Updated on May 4, 2019
Galapogas Isalands
Galapogas Isalands | Source

Galapagos Islands situated in the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean is made up of nineteen islands. They are an archipelago of islands situated very close to the equator, 600 miles from the Ecuador coastline. These islands are a hub of volcanic activities and land formations. Galapagos Islands were officially discovered by Fray Tomas de Berlanga in 1535, Bishop of Panama.

The Galapagos Islands are made up of 61 major islands and islets, with thirteen major islands – Baltra, Espanola, Fernandina, Floreana, Genovesa, Isabela, Marchena, Pinta, Pinzone, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Santa FE and Santiago. The total area of the Galapagos Islands is about 4,897 sq. miles.

A chain of volcanoes

The Galapagos Islands are a chain of volcanic peaks and are situated in the area where the Nazca Plate passes under the South American Plate. The most active volcanoes in recent times are located on Fernandina, Isabela, Pinta, and Marchena islands.

Each major island has a single large shield volcano (a volcano with a gentle slope and a natural shape that is formed by a steady stream of slow flowing magma). The biggest island Isabella does not have a shield volcano.

Island Isabella was formed by six volcanoes above sea level and is 1,771 square miles in area. The largest volcano of the archipelago, “Volcan Wolf” is located in Isabela island at an altitude of 5,600 feet.

All the islands have risen above the ocean floor as volcanic formations during Pliocene era (the period of geologic time, marked by the appearance of most modern animals about two to seven million years ago). The Galapagos Islands have never been connected to any mainlands. Even today these islands have volcanic eruptions very frequently.

The Galapagos Islands are very young – no more than five million years old. Scientists observe the changes taking place in these islands and their effects on the tides, wind, and weather. By doing this, the scientists can understand and study the impact these changes have on the environment of the Galapagos Islands, a part of our Planet Earth. These studies help the scientists to develop ways to protect the environment of our world.

Ecosystems in Galapagos Islands

The Galapogas Islands have four main ecosystems –

  1. Arid lowlands, open forests of enormous cacti
  2. Subtropical forests
  3. Moist, dense forests with trees found in higher elevations
  4. Upland areas without any trees, covered by ferns and grasses

Many calderas (a large crater formed by volcanic explosions) and cones have formed throughout the archipelago, the largest being found on Isabela and Fernandina Islands.

blue footed booby
blue footed booby | Source
Galapagos tortoise
Galapagos tortoise | Source

Fauna and Flora of Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are native to rare species such as the Galapagos giant tortoise with eleven subspecies spread all across the Islands, thirteen species of Darwin’s finches, terrestrial iguanas, marine iguanas and lizards.

The other exotic bird species are Dark-Rumped Petrel, Galapagos Flightless Cormorant, Galapagos Penguin Lava Gull, Galapagos Hawk, Floreana Mockingbird, Lava Heron, Galapagos Martin Nocturnal Swallow-Tailed Gull, Thick-Billed Fly Catcher, Galapagos Rail and Galapagos Dove.

The native mammalian fauna includes Galapagos Fur Seal, Galapagos Sea Lion, Whales, and Dolphins.

The marine fauna includes Green Turtles, Hawksbill, Turtles, Sharks, Rays, Crabs, Sea Urchins, Starfishes and much more.

Galapagos Islands is home to one of it's kind giant Pinta tortoise also known as “Lonesome George” (lived for a century)

Another highlight of these islands is that two major oceanic currents converge here - the cold Humboldt current and the warm Panama current. This has resulted in an incredible range of marine species.

The plants on these islands are unusual and unique. For example, Large Pear, Candelabra, Cacti, Bromeliads, Orchids, Tree Daisies and much more.

Charles Darwin and Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands were responsible for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection. Charles Darwin visited these islands during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. He studied the endemic species of the Galapagos islands which lead to his theory of natural selection.

In 1978 UNESCO declared Galapagos Islands as the first World Heritage Site. The Charles Darwin Research Station in the archipelago was set up to protect the eco-system and to regulate incoming boats, tourists, etc.

Galapagos Islands - A paradise

The Galapagos Islands -

  • a land of pristine pure nature
  • a land of dormant and active volcanoes

A place

  • visited by Charles Darwin
  • where you can find exotic birds, animals, and plants
  • where you can dive, trek and snorkel
  • explore and learn

In short Galapagos Islands is a paradise for people who love to travel and explore.


References

redmangrove.com

galapagos islands.com

© 2012 Nithya Venkat

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    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Jools99 thank you for stopping by and reading. You made my day:).

      unknown spy thank you for stopping by and for leaving a wonderful comment.

    • unknown spy profile image

      Life Under Construction 

      7 years ago from Neverland

      I love the photos.. this is a masterpiece.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools Hogg 

      7 years ago from North-East UK

      Well researched, interesting hub with great photos. Well researched gem, well done :o)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      frogyfish am so sorry for the mishap of your relative. Am glad his surgery went off well. The islands are great and beautiful!! Thank you for stopping by.

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 

      7 years ago from Central United States of America

      My fav was your sesuvium and bug macro, but that iguana thought it was king of the mountain too! Interesting information given about the islands too...a relative visited there a few years back; fell on the volcanic rock and broke his wrist. His emergency room visit was quite a tale - with goats running through the outdoor hospital, birds yelling, and less than ideal anesthesia conditions...which he refused. (Luckily his USA surgery was successful a couple weeks later.)

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      AudreyHowitt I really do hope you can make it someday!! Thanks for stopping by.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 

      7 years ago from California

      This is one of the trips that I hope to make someday--and what an excellent article this is about the islands and life there--passing this on

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      jhamann am glad you got another place to day dream!! Thanks for stopping by.

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 

      7 years ago from Reno NV

      I have always wanted to go being a fan of Darwin and his theories. Now I have a place to go to daydream. Thank you. Jamie

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      bdegiulio thank you and I do hope you get to visit Galapagos Islands.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Beautiful hub. Have always wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands, hopefully someday. Love the photos. Great job.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Steve Kaye thanks for stopping by.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Movie Master am glad you enjoyed reading my hub, thank you.

      Mama Kim I so hope you get to visit Galapagos someday, thank you.

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      7 years ago

      I hope to visit the Galapagos someday! For now your hub was amazing, beautiful pictures! Voted up and beautiful

    • profile image

      Steve Kaye 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for this tour.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Vellur, a very enjoyable hub, fabulous information and photos - excellent work thank you and voted up.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      teaches12345 thank you, as you say this place is a true adventure and I never miss an opportunity to read up or watch it on TV. I do hope you get to visit this place.

      Mhatter99 thank you, this place is awesome.

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for this informative tour and great pics.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      7 years ago

      Your hub is exciting! I love the photo posts, especially of the lizard and turtles. I have seen documentaries on this area and it always seems like an adventure for those who are narrating. One day, I may get to visit. Thanks for posting this hub.

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Rosemay50 the size of the tree and iguana is mind boggling!! Thank you for stopping by and am happy you enjoyed.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 

      7 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      Awesome photos and info. Those trees look odd and the iguana looks huge.

      Enjoyable read thank you

    • Vellur profile imageAUTHOR

      Nithya Venkat 

      7 years ago from Dubai

      Jackie Lynnley thank you, everything about Galapagos Islands is gorgeous and beautiful!!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 

      7 years ago from the beautiful south

      What a fun hub and such gorgeous photos! Thanks for smiles just getting to hubs!

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