The Galapagos Islands are situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the South American continent…Galapagos Island.
There are 19 islands which are surrounded by marine reserves. They have been called a unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. The Island is located at the confluence of three ocean currents, the Galápagos are a ‘melting pot’ of marine species. Ongoing seismi
c and volcanic activity reflects the processes that formed the islands. These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual animal life. This include animals such as the land iguana, the giant tortoise and the many types of finch – that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. That is by natural selection following his visit in 1835.
Outstanding Universal Value
The Galapagos Islands area situated in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast. This archipelago and its immense marine reserve is known as the unique ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’. Its geographical location at the confluence of three ocean currents makes it one of the richest marine ecosystems in the world. Ongoing seismic and volcanic activity reflects the processes that forms the islands.
These processes, together with the extreme isolation of the islands, led to the development of unusual plant and animal life. Such as marine iguanas, flightless cormorants, giant tortoises, huge cacti, endemic trees and the many different subspecies of mockingbirds and finches. All of which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection following his visit in 1835.
Criterion vii: Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Marine Reserve is an underwater wildlife spectacle with abundant life. Ranging from corals to sharks to penguins and also to marine mammals. No other site in the world can offer the experience of diving with such a diversity of marine life . The forms are so familiar with human beings, that they accompany divers. The diversity of underwater geomorphological forms is an added value to the site. The Island produces a unique display, which cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Criterion viii: Galapagos Islands
The archipelago´s geology begins at the sea floor and emerges above sea level where biological processes continue.. Three major tectonic plates—Nazca, Cocos and Pacific— meet at the basis of the ocean, which is of significant geological interest. In comparison with most oceanic archipelagos, the Galapagos are very young with the largest and youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, with less than one million years of existence, and the oldest islands, Española and San Cristóbal, somewhere between three to five million years. The site demonstrates the evolution of the younger volcanic areas in the west and the older islands in the east. On-going geological and geomorphological processes, including recent volcanic eruptions. There are also small seismic movements, and erosion provide key insights to the puzzle of the origin of the Galapagos Islands. Almost no other site in the world offers protection of such a complete continuum of geological and geomorphological features.
Criterion ix: Galapagos Islands
The origin of the flora and fauna of the Galapagos has been of great interest to people ever since the publication of the “Voyage of the Beagle” by Charles Darwin in 1839. The islands constitute an almost unique example of how ecological, evolutionary and biogeographic processes influence the flora and fauna on both specific islands.
This also invloves as well the entire archipelago. Darwin’s finches, mockingbirds, land snails, giant tortoises and a number of plant and insect groups represent the best adaptive radiation. Likewise, the Marine Reserve, situated at the confluence of 3 major eastern Pacific currents and influenced by climatic phenomena. This inlcude such as El Niño, has had major evolutionary consequences and provides important clues about species evolution under changing conditions.
The direct dependence on the sea for much of the island’s wildlife. This include e.g. seabirds, marine iguanas, sea lions is abundantly evident and provides an inseparable link between the terrestrial and marine worlds.
Criterion x: Galapagos Islands
The islands have relatively high species diversity for such young oceanic islands. And equally contains emblematic taxa such as giant tortoises and land iguanas. These iguanas are the most northerly species of penguin in the world. And also flightless cormorants as well as the historically important Darwin’s finches and Galapagos mockingbirds. Endemic flora such as the giant daisy trees Scalesia spp. And many other genera have also radiated on the islands, part of a native flora including about 500 vascular plant species of which about 180 are endemic.
Examples of endemic and threatened species include 12 native terrestrial mammal species (11 endemic, with 10 threatened or extinct. And 36 reptile species (all endemic and most considered threatened or extinct). This is therefore jthe only marine iguana in the world. Likewise the marine fauna has an unusually high level of diversity and endemism, with 2,909 marine species identified with 18.2% endemism. High profile marine species include sharks, whale sharks, rays and cetaceans.
Integrity Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos archipelago is located about 1,000 km from continental Ecuador and is composed of 127 islands, islets and rocks. Of which 19 are large and 4are inhabited. 97% of the total emerged surface (7,665,100 ha) was declared National Park in 1959. Also the park conservation body have restricted human settlement to the remaining 3% in specifically zoned rural and urban areas on four islands. The Galapagos Marine surrounds the marine. Which conservers created in 1986 (70,000 km2) and extended to its current area (133,000 km2) in 1998, making it one of the largest marine reserves in the world.
Protection and management requirements
The main threats to the Galapagos are the introduction of invasive species. Additionally increased tourism, demographic growth, illegal fishing and governance issues (i.e. who takes responsibility for decisions given the large number of stakeholders with conflicting interests involved in managing the islands). Many persons have constantly analyzed and monitored to adequately manage them and reinforce strategies to minimize their impact.
In 1986 UNESCO passed laws to control fishing and over-exploitation of Galapagos marine resources.People further strengthened security by the “Special Regime Law for the Conservation and Sustainable Developmen.
The Galapagos Park
In the Province of the Galapagos” of 1998, and inscribed in the Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador. This law designated the current Galapagos Marine Reserve as a protected area under the responsibility of the Galapagos National Park Service. The park provides the specific legal framework. It regulates many aspecdts of the island life. Including provincial planning.This also inloves inspection and quarantine measures; fisheries management; control and marine monitoring.
Residency and migration of people to the islands; tourism through a visitor management system, permits and quotas; agriculture; waste management; and “total control” of introduced species.
The Galapagos Island is an ideal destination for those in love with nature. Visitors would have so many stories to tell of the waters, marine life, the giant totoise and a host of other animal species.
See also this post on The Mauritius Island