Galapagos Red-footed boobies, with their bright red feet and brilliant blue beaks, are rather peculiar looking birds. However, more peculiar still is the fact that a bird with webbed feet nests in trees and shrubs. Crows, eagles, sparrows and the vast majority of birds that spend significant amounts of time in trees have strong digits that allow them to cling to the branches. Yet, such oddities are not unusual in the Galapagos Islands, where birds have lost their ability to fly and iguanas swim in the sea.
When Charles Darwin visited the archipelago, he mistakenly gave little importance to the Galapagos marine iguanas and even thought they were “hideous-looking…most disgusting, clumsy lizards.” However, these miniature, swimming dragons are a spectacular example of the processes of evolution and are remarkably well-adapted to their environment.
The Galapagos Archipelago, Charles Darwin, giant tortoises and…one of the world’s first post offices?? The Galapagos Islands are world-renowned for the answers they have provided to evolutionary thought; however, few are familiar with the fully functional – although not altogether conventional – mail service that it has had since the late 1700s, even before the first settlers arrived to the islands. Learn about the Post Office Bay in Galapagos.
The Galapagos Archipelago is an isolated and marvelously unique corner of our ever-shrinking world. First recognized in 1935 by Charles Darwin, it has since been renowned by biologists, geologists, tourists, marine specialists and divers from around the world, as well as the world-renowned organization UNESCO, which named it a World Heritage Site in 1978. From giant tortoises to blue-footed boobies, sunbathing to hiking and sinkholes to lava caves, this ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’ holds something for everyone. Yet despite the fame that the Galapagos Islands have, visitors often underestimate the true extent of their wealth. Covering an area of more than 28,000 sq. miles and with significant differences between each island, it is important to be well organized before arriving to this scientific paradise. Read about tips for a great Galapagos vacation here.
A shifting leaf, the flick of a tail…small Galapagos lava lizards are normally impossible to observe up close – slipping away almost instantaneously. But lava lizards, like all animals in this enchanted archipelago, are unafraid of humans and, if anything, sit posing for a photo. The Galapagos lava lizard inhabits all of the main Galapagos Islands with the exception of Darwin and Wolf, so whether you’re there to enjoy the gorgeous beaches or explore the rocky trails brimming with life, you are bound to spot several of them.
Overshadowed by the numerous sea lions lying on benches, across paths and seemingly anywhere the sun touches, the Galapagos fur seal often receives very little attention from visitors to the Galapagos. However, the numbers of the two populations are surprisingly quite similar – the difference is that while the sea lion prefers sunny beaches, the fur seal sticks to rocky, shady coastlines (largely on Isabela and Fernandina islands) where tourists are less likely to visit. This difference is due to the signature distinction between the two strikingly related species: their coats.