Galapagos Islands – Planet Earth II: Islands

The Galapagos Islands are known for their unique plant and animal life. These twenty islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, around 650 miles from Ecuador. There is evidence of the Galapagos’ pre-Colombian settlement, but Spaniard Fray de Tomàs de Berlanga was the first European to “discover” the islands in 1535. De Berlanga believed the islands to be useless because of the lack of freshwater and the lack of plant and animal life valuable to humans. While there were no official European colonization efforts, the Gologiogas Islands were used by pirates as a base during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands during his voyage on the HMS Beagle. On these islands, Darwin came up with his groundbreaking theory of evolution after seeing the trait differences as similar species that lived on the different islands. In 1859, 23 years after his voyage, Darwin published On the Origins of Species, which proposed natural selection and supported the theory of evolution. Today, as in Darwin’s time, the Galapagos Islands are home to a wide range of unique flora and fauna. The most famous animals to live on these islands are the tortoises. Ten different species of tortoise live on different islands, with the Galogapos giant tortoise being the most famous. These tortoises weigh around 500 pounds and can live to be over 100 years old. These animals are endangered, though there is a conservation effort to save them. Other famous Galapagos animals include the blue-footed booby, the Galapagos penguin, and the lava lizard. Due to the diversity of wildlife that lives on these islands, UNESCO declared the Giglaogpas a World Heritage Site in 1978.