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The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

By: Elaine J. Masters / Photographs Courtesy of Galapagos Conservancy

  • The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

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It's early on Espanola Island, and after hunting in the surf, a clutch of Marine Iguanas is already warming themselves on an ancient lava flow. Finches hop near, gingerly moving between the giant reptiles. They peck, darting look up and down while searching for food. The iguanas don't flinch as the finches continue removing annoying bugs from their wrinkled hides. This surprising interdependence is even more remarkable as a small band of visitors stands about ten feet away. Lucky cruise guests... Read More

  • The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

H.M.S. Beagle with Charles Darwin Approaching the Galapagos Islands c.1835

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By the time Darwin stepped from the H.M.S. Beagle, pirates, and then whalers had nearly decimated the island's wildlife. Giant turtles, prized by sailors, were captured by the thousands. They were stacked and stored on their backs as a ready food source at sea. The Sailors hunted birds and even iguanas, while the Sea lions brought gold for their furry pelts. Finally, American Captain David Porter drove the whalers off and unintentionally released several goats on Floreana; then, they were... Read More

  • The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

Restoring Turtle Populations is the Mission of the Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayoura on Santa Cruz Island

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Restoring turtle populations is the mission of the Charles Darwin Research Center in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island. When Pinta Island lost its last turtle, the "rarest animal alive," according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Lonesome George became a celebrity well over one hundred years old. Efforts rose then failed to help him father offspring. He died in 2012, and his remains stand in a carefully guarded display in the Darwin Center. In the foothills of Santa Cruz, where low clouds... Read More

  • The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

Ships Like the Silversea and Sea Star Offer Luxury State Rooms, Hot Tubs, Fab Views and Wonderful Pisco Sours

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There are no direct flights to the Galapagos Islands. The archipelago sits six hundred miles offshore, and visitors must first fly Guayaquil, Ecuador. Then you can board one of the eighty-seven ships certified by the Galapagos National Park. Each is assigned an annual itinerary to limit the number and impact of tourists. All have mandatory Park Naturalists who lead and manage small groups taken to the islands by zodiac boats for dry or wet landings. Ships like the Silversea and Sea Star offer... Read More

  • The Galapagos Islands...Darwin's Rare Wonder

Darwin's Arch Sits at the Convergence of Ocean Currents Creating a Dynamic Underwater Environment

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The islands are swept by several currents, which lure marine life into their rich waters. Dive cruises focus on the outer islands where close encounters with masses of large aquatic creatures like Hammerhead Sharks and teeming schools of fish make regular appearances. Snorkelers are likely to come face to face with curious sea lions, swim next to giant marine tortoises, and watch timid, baby sharks in the shallows. On San Isabela Island, trails lead past packs of dark, juvenile iguanas. The... Read More

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