The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands are a group of 16 islands located in the Pacific Ocean that straddle the equator about 525 miles west of the South American Coastline. The islands were formed by underwater volcanoes millions of years ago and belong to Ecuador. The Galapagos are well known for their vast diversity in plant and animal populations. Some of the plant and animal life found on the islands cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The Galapagos Islands are considered to be the last oceanic archipelago in the world that retains over 95% of its original biodiversity (Watkins and Cruz, 2007). These unique islands have had many influences on science and human philosophy through the many studies conducted by Charles Darwin. Due to the beauty and uniqueness of the Galapagos Islands they became a major tourist attraction and each year nets millions of dollars in profits for the Ecuadorian government. All the fame and fortune does not come without a price though. There are many species of animals native to the Galapagos Islands. Some of these are in danger of extinction and some cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The most famous animals on the island are the Finches. These finches are well known through the studies of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution through natural selection. The birds are very different from finches found on the mainland because their beaks have all evolved to suit their nutritional needs on the island. There are also six different species of tortoise on the island. The most well known is the Giant Sea Tortoise. There are also many different Iguanas and Sea Lions that have called the Galapagos home for many years. There is some wildlife found on the islands that was not there many years ago. These include goats, pigs, rats, and many domesticated pets that were brought to the islands, either purposely or accidentally, by tourists and migrants who came to live in paradise. Once the animals were introduced to...
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