The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean, about 600 miles west of Ecuador, South America, and are an offshore territory of Ecuador. The islands lie on the equator --which is what the word "Ecuador" means. Places that are found on the equator receive the most constant and direct sunlight of any place in the world and are hot throughout the year. Are you ready for this? The Galapagos Islands aren't really lands at all, but are the tips of underwater volcanoes! The rock on the island is really lava that came out of the volcano and cooled --some of it eventually eroded to a type of soil.
DAY 2: Because the islands were never connected to Ecuador, many species of plants and animals are unique to the Galapagos --that means they are endemic...they aren't found anywhere else. The question is...how did the animals get to a place that is really part of a volcano and isn't connected to land?
Fish and other marine animals swam.
Some land animals floated on vegetation that washed out to sea during flash floods on the mainland.
Some plants and seeds floated on the currents. Seeds could also be carried on floating debris and on the bodies of birds and possibly land animals. Some seeds and plant parts may have been carried by the wind.
The Galapagos Islands are home to some of the highest levels of endemism (species found nowhere else on earth) anywhere on the planet. About 80% of the land birds you will see, 97% of the reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30% of the plants are endemic --that means they are only found on Galapagos.
DAY 3: Today we will look at some of the favorite animals that are found only on Galapagos --remember... endemism means species of animals that are found nowhere else on the earth.
Favorites include the giant Galapagos tortoise, marine iguana, flightless cormorant (can you tell by looking at it why it can't fly???), and the Galapagos penguin—the only penguin species to be found in the Northern Hemisphere.
DAY 4: Today we will look at some of the other animals that demonstrate the endemism of the Galapagos Islands.
The Land Iguana
Galapagos Sea Lion
Blue Footed Booby
Galapagos.orgGalapagos.org,. (2015). Galapagos Conservancy Blog. Retrieved 26 August 2015, from http://www.galapagos.org/about_galapagos/sea-birds/
DAY 5: Want to see the Galapagos Islands aboard a National Geographic ship? You can. Here are some of the things you can do: * snorkel with seals and other sea animals * travel in small boats around the islands * really see the ocean animals in glass bottom boats * get really close to the animals who aren't afraid of you and don't care if you want to get near them * feed the giant tortoises