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Ecuador Real Estate: Cotacachi, San Clemente, and Mindo, Ecuador



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Galapagos Islands

Kate Neville - April 21 2008

  • Protecting The Wonder Of Galapagos Island Wildlife 

The unique wildlife of the Galapagos Islands has been commented upon for centuries. In fact, it was one of the original factors that caused Charles Darwin to develop his theory of evolution. Unfortunately, protection for Galapagos wildlife took longer to appear. The first protective legislation for this area occurred in the mid-1930s. However, no actual action was taken until the late 1950s. Missions from the IUCN and UNESCA were sent to find out what was happening to the native plants and animals, and to establish a research station. In 1959, which was the hundredth anniversary of the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, almost all of the land in the archipelago was declared to be a national park. Only areas with existing settlements where excluded. The same year, the Charles Darwin Foundation was created to help ensure the conservation of the ecosystem, and to study the local Galapagos Islands wildlife so conservation would be more effective.

In addition to the islands existing as a park, it eventually became necessary to extend protection into the water, too. In 1986, about forty thousand square miles of ocean around the Galapagos islands was declared as a marine reserve. That makes it the second largest marine reserve in the world. Only the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is larger. The archipelago was declared to be a whale sanctuary in 1990. Galapagos Island wildlife includes many unique species that can be found nowhere else in the world. Examples include the Galapagos Land Iguana, the Galapagos Marine Iguana (the only ocean going iguana), and the Galapagos Tortoise. The very endangered Galapagos Green Turtle is also a native of the islands, and is thought to be a subspecies of the Pacific Green Turtle. Closely related to the California Sea Lion is the Galapagos Sea Lion, which hunts and lives in the waters around the islands, which are also home to the rare Galapagos Fur Seal.

The Great Frigatebird and Magnificent Frigatebird are popular Galapagos wildlife known for their displays, as is the Blue Footed Booby. The Galapagos Penguin also lives in the islands. It's one of the smallest penguins in the world, and the only one to live in equatorial waters. The Waved Albatross is the world's only tropical albatross, and is also native to the Galapagos Islands. Predators aren't left out of the Galapagos wildlife, either. The Galapagos hawk is the islands main scavenger and preys on small animals. In addition to these specific birds, there are also four species of unique mockingbirds, the first animals that Darwin noticed were different on different islands. Also, the thirteen species referred to as Darwin's Finches live here, including the Vampire Finch - a blood sucker.

There are many threats to Galapagos Island wildlife, too. Introduced animals, including cattle and goats, cats, dogs, rats, and others, can destroy the habitats, young, and adults of the native animals. Since there are few predators native to the islands, Galapagos wildlife have few defenses against introduced species. Introduced plants are also a problem. Guava, avocado, citrus fruits and others invade areas of the islands and destroy native plants, which means that the local wildlife loses food sources. Many of these species were introduced to the islands by pirates, which used them as a refueling station. Conservation efforts in the islands can help reduce the effects of these introduced species.

For an amazing adventure without the expense, learn all about the Galapagos Islands with our Galapagos Islands Guide.

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