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Issue #104, November 2003

1) Galapagos Human History Part II
2) Galapagos Human History Part III
3) Galapagos Marine Iguanas
4) Galapagos Amazing Facts

1) The Galapagos Human History, Part II: The Galapagos' natural history is closely related to the human history of the Islands.

Many visitors become marveled of the great connection between Galapagos and World History, from pirates to whalers; from Patrick Watkins to the amazing Charles Darwin; from the self-titled Baroness to the courageous Wittmer Family.

1905-1906: Scientists from the California Academy of Sciences make one of the most extensive collections and scientific studies of the archipelago.

The bay in Santa Cruz Island where Puerto Ayora is located, Academy Bay, takes its name from such expedition.

1923: Famous Naturalist William Beebe visits Galapagos. His book, "Galapagos World's End" puts the Islands in great worldwide awareness and interest.

1929-1934: Strange events and curious stories occur in Floreana Island between the groups of families and colonizers: the Ritter's, a self-proclaimed Baroness Eloise Von Wagner with her three male companions, and the Wittmer's. Only the Wittmer family succeeds in colonizing.

1941-1948: The Ecuadorian Government leases the Island of Baltra (South Seymour) to the US Military Forces. An Air Force, Army, and Naval Base are constructed. The purpose of the Island is to develop a strategically located base for the protection of the Panama Canal during World War II.

1959: The Ecuadorian Government declares all areas in Galapagos, a National Park. Only colonized areas are not included. Later in the year, the Charles Darwin Foundation is established in Brussels, Belgium.

1964: Inauguration of the Charles Darwin Research Station in Santa Cruz Island.

1969: Metropolitan Touring officially launches organized tourism with the arrival of the 58-guest ship "Lina A".

1978: The Islands are declared by UNESCO, a World Heritage Site.

2) The Galapagos Human History, Part III: In our third, and last part, we just have to go back some 20 years...

1982-1983: The "El Niño Phenomenon", a natural event, creates one of the most amazing abnormal conditions in Galapagos' environments ever experienced.

The unusual warm waters, the increased rainfall, and the extended period of time when this happened decreases most sea-dependent species, like albatrosses, penguins, boobies and marine iguanas.

The amazing lush Islands and their abnormal climatic conditions boost extraordinary reproductive patterns in land-dependent species like Darwin's finches, land iguanas, tortoises, and of course most of the vegetation.

1986: The waters of Galapagos are declared a Marine Reserve. This makes the Islands' adjacent waters, the world's second largest Marine Reserve.

1995: Fernandina Island erupts on its Cape Hammond side. The eruption lasted for almost 5 months. Great views were documented as the molten rock entered the cool water.

1997-1998: The El Niño Phenomenon appears again. This time, however, the great difference with the 1982-1983 event is that it lacked in rain.

1997: Metropolitan Touring creates "Galapagos Foundation" as a way to contribute directly with the sustainability of this destination. Projects are directly geared for helping the social well being of the local population.

1999: The year of the solar eclipse. Astonishing views are seen in Galapagos. The exact point of the eclipse's maximum view went right through the Islands, in between Tower (Genovesa) and Bindloe (Marchena) Islands.

2001: The Galapagos Marine Reserve enters the list of UNESCO properties declared as World Heritage Sites. The marine world of Galapagos is one of the most amazing tropical places on Earth.

2003: The Galapagos Islands commemorate 25 years of being listed as World Heritage Site. It is the first archipelago that entered such list.

3) Galapagos Marine Iguanas: the only sea-going lizards on Earth: In the vertebrate world there is only one member of the lizard group that feeds in the ocean. We are talking about the Galapagos Marine Iguana (Amblyrhynchus cristatus ), one of the most fascinating reptiles and the most interesting representative of the reptile evolution.

They eat marine algae (seaweed), they bask in the sun for thermo-regulation, they dive up to 12 meters (38 feet) and can stay underwater for about 30 minutes.

They are highly gregarious (social) but do not hang out in family groups. They breed in the hot season, and males establish territories which are defended vigorously.

They also change colors in breeding time, and their sizes depend on the island they inhabit. The biggest ones are found in the western islands (Isabela and Fernandina), while the smallest ones are found in Genovesa (Tower) Island.

Read More About Galapagos Marine Iguanas

4) Galapagos Amazing Facts:

  • It takes less than 40 minutes to reach Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island) from the Itabaca Channel on its northern coast
  • Nazca Booby is the new name for the former Masked Booby
  • Charles Darwin was in Galapagos for five weeks, out of which, just two weeks were spent on land, and three weeks navigating
  • Santa Fe Island is the only Island that has its own species of Land Iguana
  • Mangrove Finches also use a tool for feeding (just like Woodpecker Finches do)

More About Galapagos & Ecuador

Galapagos Ground Finch

Galapagos Island Oil Spill

Luxury Galapagos Cruise Tour

Galapagos islands Pictures

Travel to Ecuador

See you in the next issue of Galapagos Expedition and hoping you visit Ecuador or the Galapagos Islands soon...


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