The Galapagos Islands are a bizarre oasis of nature off the coast of Ecuador. You’re likely to have seen pictures of the wonderful wildlife on the Galapagos Islands and have heard of the connection that Darwin had with the islands.
But chances are you’ve never heard these Galapagos facts before; did you know any of these eight things that no-one ever mentions about the Galapagos?
The Islands Inspired Moby Dick
Well, sort of…the Islands were visited by an American Whaling ship called The Essex and whilst the crew were aboard they accidentally set one of the islands on fire! The ship had docked at Charles Island to collect tortoises for food when the island was set alight as a prank went wrong.
The sailors then moved on before their boat was struck and seriously damaged by a sperm whale. The crew continued their mission but eventually ended up with an unrepairable boat and turned to cannibalism! The few survivors were finally rescued by a British whaleship called the Indian.
Charles Darwin Rode The Tortoises
Charles Darwin didn’t just study the wildlife – he rode it as well! Whilst he was on the Galapagos Islands for his 5 week exploration he was so taken by the giant shelled creatures that he tried to ride them! Unsuccessfully we imagine…
Speaking of Tortoises…
The downfall of the giant tortoise is how tasty they are! They avoided scientific classification for many years due to the fact that no specimen made it back to Europe successfully without being eaten for some time.
Because of their ability to live without food or water for months the animals could be kept on long voyages as meat to keep the soldiers alive. Luckily the tortoises are now a protected endangered species!
Goats were introduced to the Galapagos in the 1800s and it was a complete disaster for the islands. They ate anything and everything on the islands, and were a threat to the tortoises and all other creatures on the islands that relied on the delicate eco-system.
Between 1997 and 2006 over 100,000 goats were killed by skilled wardens and soldiers from New Zealand.
You Can Get an Education There
Despite the small size of the islands and the fact that only four of them are inhabited, San Cristobal Island is home to the Galapagos Academic Institute for the Arts and Sciences.
The college is a remote campus of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and offers students the chance to learn about evolution, ecology & conservation, marine ecology or people, politics & the environment.
And it’s not just the wildlife that is weird or endangered, just check out the plant life! There are 600 indigenous plants, some of which have evolved into as many as 6 different species of the same plant. They certainly don’t look like what you’d get in your garden at home!
Don’t Just Look Around, Look Up!
The islands have beautiful animals and plants on them, but the skies above are worth a look too! Because of their extremely remote location the islands have no pollution from smog or cars and no light pollution either, meaning you can have an unobstructed view of the twinkling stars.
The added bonus of being on the equator means you have a chance to see stars and constellations from both hemispheres!
It’s Like Another Planet Entirely
Whilst parts of the Galapagos are tropical with abundant plants, some areas are sparse with little vegetation. Certain areas of desert look like they could be on the moon!
Did you know any of these strange facts about the Galapagos Islands already? Would you like to visit them? Let us know in the comments below!
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