The islands of the Galapagos are known for being one of the most exotic locations on earth. It’s famous for being the inspiration behind Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species, a landmark work detailing the idea of evolution in the natural world.
But did you know it’s also one of the places where you can see lizards that swim in the water? Or that the tortoises native the island can live over a 100 years? Or how about the fact that it has over 800 species of Mollusks and even more of fish species? Crazy, huh? If you thought that was interesting, you’ll love these next few unique and interesting Galapagos Islands facts.
1. There is Just as Much Sunlight as Darkness
Since the main attraction on the Galapagos are the animals, and there are both daytime and nocturnal animals on the island, it’s convenient that there are exactly twelve hours of sunlight and twelve hours of nighttime. There’s also no need for daylight savings time too since it’s a tropical location, you’ll get 12 hours of each no matter when you arrive.
2. It Has Two Very Distinct Origins
The first inhabitants of the Galapagos islands were of Spanish and English descent, which makes for a unique blend, culturally speaking. Furthermore, you’ll find a whole lot of people on the island that have English names, and others that have Spanish names, making it a place where unity-through-diversity truly is an asset.
3. It Is one of the Most Biologically Diverse Places On Earth
You already know that the Galapagos islands are home to some of the most exotic species on earth, but what you may not know is that half of the land species, and one one-fifth of the water species, are native to the islands of the Galapagos. It’s for this reason that 97% of the island is a national park, making it, along with the 25,000 humans that call the islands home, one of the most biologically-diverse areas in the entire world.
The Galapagos islands were formed as the result of volcanic activity that caused the lava to cool over time and form a mound which grew into the islands we see today. Since it’s a part of Ecuador, the Galapagos is part of a string of islands that sit about 1000 kilometers from the coast of the United States. Galapagos specifically has seen more than its share of volcanic activity as well, having had thirteen eruptions in the last 100 years, the most recent of which was in 2009, when the coast of Fernandina Island was completely altered as a result.
5. The Animals are Very Unusual
The Galapagos has been known throughout time as a place of almost unmatched and untouched beauty, forming species of animals that you most likely wouldn’t see anywhere else in the world. This reputation is well-earned, as is seen in the different colors and features the animals possess. The feet of the Blue Footed Bobby, for instance, can wrap over its chicks and keep them warm during hibernation, and the Frigatebirds have small bodies with vast wingspans and can soar for days and even weeks at a time without landing. The Marine Iquana lives on both land and in the water, reaching depths of up to 30 feet, and Darwin’s finches embody fifteen different species of birds that have similar markings, btu vastly different bills. The Galapagos is truly an biological delight to witness!
6. They Import Nearly Everything…Except One
Despite having a vast amount of natural resources, the 25,000 inhabitants of the Galapagos islands are forced to import nearly all of their food and water from other areas. The lone and notable exception to this is coffee, which the Galapagos Islands have been exporting since 1869. The biggest purchaser of coffee beans from the Galapgos? Starbucks.
Almost all of the penguins in the entire world live south of the equator, primarily in Antarctica, which is home to the famous Emperor penguins, and around Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The only exception to this rule are the Galapagos penquins, who are the only species of penguins found north of the equator, and have adapted their bodies to keep themselves warm through a method called thermoregulation. They even have been known to walk across land with their flippers hanging over their feet in order to keep from getting sunburned. Although Darwin focused on finches to bring about his theories of natural selection, there’s no doubt the evolutionary advancement of penguins would have raised a few eyebrows as well!