Axia College of University of Phoenix
SCI/230 Introduction to Life Science
The Galapagos Islands
The government of Ecuador needs your help to preserve the natural resources and beauty of the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos Islands were declared National Park by the government of Ecuador in the late 1950’s. More than eighty percent of the islands are protected and carefully managed (Galapagos). “The UNESCO declared Galapagos as a World Natural Heritage Site in 1978 and a World Biosphere Reserve in 1985”(Galapagos). “The Charles Darwin Station in Santa Cruz is leading and coordinating all activities and efforts to preserve the ecosystem of the area and developing educational and conservation projects” (Galapagos). The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles from the west coast of South America. Ecuador is the closet landmass to these islands. The coordinates for the islands are 1°40'N-1°36'S, 89°16'-92°01'W. The islands spread across both the north and south hemispheres. The Isla Isabela is located directly on the equator. The Galapagos Islands spans 4897 square miles of land over 28,000 square miles. Isabela is the largest island, which is 1771 square miles and accounts for over half of the Galapagos Islands total land area. The highest elevation point is also located on Isabella Volcano Wolf is 5,600 feet above sea level. There are seven principle islands in this region, they include: Isabella, Santa Cruz, Fernandina, Santiago, San Cristobal, Floreana, and Marchena. (The Galapagos, 2008) The Galapagos Islands are roughly 4 million years old. Submarine volcanoes built up these islands over a period of time. There are a couple of theories as to how these islands were formed. The hot spot theory and the Tectonic plate theory. It is believed that plate tectonics are responsible for the formation of the Galapagos Islands. The movement of Nazca plate into the mantle causing the formation of erupting volcanoes has a crumpling effect, which results in a young rapidly growing mountain chain. This movement is said to be responsible for the Galapagos Island (Rothman). The hot spot theory says that there is a large body of geophysical evidence for the existence of large plumes of hot mantle material that originate near the earth's core and rise all the way to the crust. Over time these plumes burn through the crust forming an underwater volcano, which may become so large it is considered an island. “Due to the crustal plate is in constant motion, the island will eventually move off of the hot spot, thereby making room for a second volcanic island”(Rothman), forming what is now the Galapagos Islands. The climate in the Galapagos Islands is very distinct. A combination of equatorial winds from the coast and the various currents of the ocean create the climate. This area has two seasons: The hot season, which is from December to May, and the cold season or garua season, which is from June to November. During the hot season the weather is mild and summer like, it is accompanied by blue skies and plenty of sunshine. In the garua season the island has cool, dry air and low water temperatures. This season also brings cloud, mist and strong winds. There are four major threats to the environment within the Galapagos Islands. Those major threats include the population growth of humans residing on the islands and the tourist, which visit the islands. The second threat is the introduction of new plant and animal life to the islands. Third are the large amounts of illegal hunting and fishing. Finally the increased amounts of air and water pollution. All of these threats are a potential danger to plant life, animal life and the delicate ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands. Currently the Galapagos Islands are home to 18,000 residents and 60,000 tourists annually (Threat, 2008). Human beings...