The Galapagos Islands – located 1000 kilometres off the coast of Ecuador – are unique for a number of reasons. Made infamous by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in the 1800s, the islands are home to some amazing flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Find out more in this article as we answer the question; “Why are the Galapagos Islands important?”.
Four reasons the Galapagos Islands are globally important
The Galapagos Islands attract tourists and researchers from across the world, thanks to their unique qualities and incredible features. In may ways, there’s nowhere else quite like the archipelago in the world. Home to an abundance of wildlife and with ethereal natural landscapes in every direction, the islands are commonly stated as some of the most valuable and unique spots across the globe.
But why exactly are the Galapagos Islands important? Read on to find out more.
1. Equatorial location
Not many people know that the Galapagos Islands are actually found in both hemispheres! Uniquely located on the equator, the islands are mostly in the Southern Hemisphere whilst the very top of Isabela Island and some of the archipelago’s northern islands are located in the Northern Hemisphere.
Interestingly, the Galapagos Islands are also located in a part of the Pacific Ocean where three ocean currents collide. As a result of these cool currents, a variety of streams at different temperatures meet here, forming unbelievable crystal-clear waters. Tropical but also temperate weather therefore characterises the region, whilst underwater streams of varying temperatures cater to all kinds of marine creatures and foster rich marine ecosystems.
2. Volcanic formation
You might find it interesting to know that the Galapagos Islands are very young. Initially formed up to ten million years ago, the islands can be considered similar to Hawaii in many ways. The islands are located above an area of hot mantle under the ocean which burns through the earth’s crust. At these spots, volcanic activity is common. This is how the Galapagos Islands were made. Over many years of eruptions, volcanic rocks were gradually built upon and pushed towards the surface of the ocean, forming islands. Over millions of years, these expanded to the size they are today.
Thanks to the Galapagos Islands’ volcanic formation, the archipelago is now home to incredible black rock formations, vibrantly coloured beaches and resultant ecosystems. Under the surface of the water, keen divers are also able to witness stunning volcanic formations which emerge from the bed of the ocean.
3. Amazing wildlife
It’s probably not news to you that the Galapagos Islands hosts a diverse array of plant and animal species. The Galapagos tortoise, the marine iguana and the flightless cormorant are three examples of animals which people visit the islands to see. The Galapagos penguin is another, as it’s the only penguin species living in the Northern Hemisphere.
Depending on the season, guests to this amazing part of the world are also able to see amazing marine creatures such as migrating whales, dolphins, hammerhead sharks and manta rays.
4. Endemic species
Five to ten million years ago, the tops of underwater Galapagos volcanoes appeared above water for the first time. Devoid of any kind of animal or plant life, animals had to reach the islands in order to eventually settle and create the ecosystems that exist here today. Theories suggest that animals both flew (or were blown) through the wind, as well as swam (or floated) to arrive at the islands.
Following the arrival of animals, evolution began across different islands. Far enough away from each other so that animal and plant life could not migrate, the Galapagos Islands existed for millions of years without contact from other land masses. This has resulted in the creation of endemic species, specific to each island.
Today, the marine life in the Galapagos is unlike anywhere else in the world. In fact, 20% of its marine species are endemic. Animals here evolved to be even more interesting due to the mix of cool ocean currents the islands receive. Developing with an environment comprised of both tropical and temperate climates, particular animals have thrived here under unique conditions unlike anywhere else in the world.
Isabela Island accommodation
Located just outside of Puerto Villamil, Chez Manany Galapagos Ecolodge is the perfect location for your next stay on the archipelago. Positioned perfectly amongst verdant vegetation and only moments from some of the most wildlife-rich parts of the island, this sustainable ecolodge is both convenient and characterful.
To book your stay, click here.