Our next series is on the Galapagos Islands. Why is there so much interest now in these islands? I think many of us are learning the world we have taken for granted may not exist for our next generations. If there is one place I would pick where this is very evident, it is these islands. Some of you readers may be well versed in the history of the islands and some few lucky ones may have even visited. For the rest of us, let’s sit back and learn today, and in the next few articles.
If we would rely on a trustworthy source for realistic information about some of the most important sites on our globe that reflect our history here on Earth, we really should look to UNESCO. They are a world wide organization, supported by contributions from members who want to preserve and quantify some of our history. I will excerpt much of this information from UNESCO, with permission, recognizing that unique expertise that only UNESCO may have.
Situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent, these 19 islands and the surrounding marine reserve have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life – such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch – that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835.
Certainly that is not any unique statement, but it does describe very well, the location of these islands on the Globe. If you were to pick 1 country they may be closest to, you may pick Peru or Ecuador. Many of my excursions include a trip to Machu Pichu, then a visit to the Galapagos. That itinerary is amazing because it introduces you to 2 extremes in history. The high mountaintop ruins of Mach Pichu, then the sea level history of these islands off the mainland. In order to describe what is unique about the Galapagos Islands, we need to get some expert insight into the scientific features, so back to UNESCO.
The Galapagos Islands area situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast. This archipelago and its immense marine reserve is known as the unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Its geographical location at the confluence of three ocean currents makes it one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual plant and animal life – such as marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, giant tortoises, huge cacti, endemic trees and the many different subspecies of mockingbirds and finches – all of which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835.
It is the isolation of these islands which allows for some rigid controls over visitors. One might imagine what would happen if visits to the islands were not controlled. Fauna, and animals would be overridden by visitors who may, or may not, take care to preserve what they see. Any companies wishing to bring visitors to these islands are controlled and regulated, to limit some negative effects on the environment. If any of you are thinking that since these are islands, we can just board a mega cruise ship somewhere and have these islands as a cruise ship stopping point. Forget about it. There are several expedition cruise companies that are licensed to visit, but these are strictly controlled. There are some Luxury Cruise Companies that make an excursion here seem like a well manicured trip to a landscape that is duplicated no where on earth, with a return to Luxury accommodations afterward