Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Galapagos: A place, like no other on earth

By far, the most remarkable feature in the natural history of this archipelago is that each island is occupied by a diverse and unique set of organisms and creatures. Indeed, these islands, about fifty or sixty miles apart, most of them in sight of each other, have the same origin, and are formed of the same rocks, yet have quite different inhabitants from one to the other.

The Galapagos Archipelago is located just 600 miles west from the mainland of Ecuador. It is a cluster of 13 large islands, 6 smaller ones and 107 islets and rocks. The islands are volcanic in origin; the oldest are about 4 million years old, and the youngest are still in the process of being formed.

Galapagos was discovered in 1535 by Thomas de Berlanga, bishop of Panama, and was appropriated by Ecuador in 1832. Three hundred years after their discovery, on the morning of September 17, 1835, an unknown naturalist, named Charles Darwin visited this unique place and with his innovative vision and notion, changed the world of science perpetually. Since then, Galapagos constitutes an important source of science world wonder worth to be visited.

Galapagos is home to many unique, endemic animals, most of which are fearless, allowing Darwin to get up-close to them. One of the best known species is the giant turtle that had evolved into 13 different forms on the different islands. There are other reptiles as the marine iguanas, land iguanas, lizards, geckos and snakes. However, the reptiles are not the more eccentric species people can find in Galapagos. There are many unique animals such as the birds that cannot fly, and the only penguin specie that lives in tropical water. In addition, there exist 300 species of fish, at lest 1600 species of insects, 80 spiders, 126 crabs and thousands and thousands of other animals.The plants of Galapagos are equally fascinating, there are odd species of cotton, tomato, pepper and poison flower.

Galapagos is, beyond any doubt, a marvelous, colorful, and exotic place, like no other on earth.