Expedition to Galapagos

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About the Galápagos

Straddling the equator, Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands lie about 600 miles (966 km) off the coast of South America. It is believed that they were first discovered in the early 1500s by the Bishop of Panama when his ship was blown off course en route to Peru. Spanish explorers later named them after the giant tortoises that live there. Now a World Heritage Site, the Galápagos Islands were made famous by English naturalist Charles Darwin from insights he gained there on the origin of new species of life following a brief visit in the 1830s.

Many features contribute to the uniqueness of the Galápagos Islands. They are volcanic in origin (the archipelago remains one of the most volcanically active areas of the world), isolated from other offshore islands and the mainland, and young in geological age (ca. 700,000 - 3 million years old). The climate is tropical at sea level, but the islands are largely surrounded by cold ocean water that wells up from the deep. Many species that arrived over time in the Galápagos by sea or by air survived and gave rise to new species that were better adapted to the unusual island conditions. The islands are thus inhabited by numerous plant and animal species that occur nowhere else in the world. A captivating aspect of most Galápagos animals is their lack of fear of humans, which enables visitors to closely approach them for observation.

Below is a map of the Galápagos Islands and their location with respect to Central and South America.

For more information on the Galápagos Islands, visit the Charles Darwin Foundation web site at: http://www.darwinfoundation.org/

For conservation information, visit the Galapagos.com conservation page at:

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos with respect to North and South Americas

*Maps courtesy of Dorothy Ferro (Ferro & Ferro Graphic Communication)


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