Learn how the Enchanted Isles’ volcanic past and isolation enabled plants and animals to uniquely evolve
Map and enlistment of the Galapagos Islands .
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
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narrator : The Galapagos Islands lie in the Pacific Ocean, straddling the Equator 1,000 kilometers west of Ecuador in South America. The Humboldt Current, rich in marine biography, flows through the archipelago and cools the ocean. Nineteen main islands and numerous smaller ones make up a land sphere of approximately 8,000 square kilometers. Most islands have both Spanish and English names.
The largest island, Isabela, is about 132 kilometers long ; the smaller ones are bare rocks. Although all are of volcanic origin, scientists do not know precisely when the submerged eruptions began or the regulate in which the islands of the archipelago emerged above the ocean.
evidence of volcanism is everywhere.
On most islands the coastal region is rough and arid. here and there between the lava are little flaxen beaches. In what short dirty has been formed in the lava debris, cactus and small shrubs frequently grow to the ocean ‘s border.
Occasionally, where land meets sea, salt-tolerant plants, such as the mangrove, park the edges of bays and lagoons. On the smaller islands there is only the arid vegetative zone.
Larger islands, such as Santa Cruz and San Cristóbal, have three or more vegetal zones. Just beyond the shoreline on Santa Cruz is an arid, closely impenetrable zone of spinous shrubs and cactus. Next is a transitional zone, where tall trees and cactus desegregate. Above this is the most prolific zone, an area kept damp by mists and casual rain. The Scalesia corner, native only to the Galapagos and a relative of the coarse sunflower, thrives here. Food crops are grown in this area.
Higher however is the Miconia belt, which consists chiefly of dense ferns and the endemic shrub Miconia. Both grow up to three meters in acme. At the peak is the upland zone, composed of ferns and grasses, which cover the slopes of extinct volcanoes.
The Galapagos Islands have been called the Enchanted Isles. Darwin described them as a world within itself. In their oceanic isolation, the process of natural selection has transformed plants and animals into many unique products of development. To provide as much auspices as potential for the native plants and animals and to promote scientific research, in 1960 the Charles Darwin Biological Station was established on Santa Cruz Island. In 1968 the government of Ecuador made the archipelago a national park. UNESCO proclaimed the Galapagos National Park a World Heritage site in 1978.