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Life In The Galapagos Islands (Or What's Left Of It)

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A young couple ready for their honeymoon chooses to go to the Galapagos Islands. They are ready for the scuba diving, the nature, and the beautiful beaches of these historical islands. They cannot wait to see the animal and plant life that looks so beautiful in the pictures on the internet. What this young couple does not know is that with just them, other tourists, and outside animals being there they are destroying one of the rare places on Earth that has this precious animal and plant life. With the introduction of tourists and outside animals, the Galapagos Islands have even been included on the World Heritage Danger list! The good thing is that there are still some of the animals on the islands that have been there since the beginning and there are groups and organizations that are trying to help preserve the natural beauty and wonder of the islands.

The animals that live on the Galapagos archipelago are some of the most unique and rare in the world. There are over twenty-three types of reptiles that live on the islands: three species of iguana, seven lava lizards, nine geckos, three snakes, and one species of giant tortoise (Land Animals, 2008). The most famous of these animals is the giant tortoise which “has evolved into 14 different races” (Land Animals, 2008). According to the Galapagos Conservation Trust, the giant tortoise has three shell types and their diet consists of grass and leaves (Land Animals, 2008). However, there are only about 15,000 of these infamous creatures left on the island and three of the races have gone extinct while one race has only one lonely tortoise surviving (Land Animals, 2008). Besides the giant tortoise, another creature that has its home only on the islands is the marine iguana (Land Animals, 2008). In fact, there are two species that live there “grazing on seaweed on coastal rocks or in the sea” (Land Animals, 2008).

As far as mammals go, there are not many that live on the Galapagos Islands. Those that do live there had to get there by air, water, or by human ships. The Galapagos sea lion and the Galapagos fur seal both swam to the islands (Land Animals, 2008). In the islands, “there are about 50,000 sea lions” that live off of the shores and beaches and they are about three times as big as the fur seals (Land Animals, 2008). Another island mammal is the rice rat that has three species currently living; however, “scientists think that over seven species of rice rats have become extinct in Galapagos” (Land Animals, 2008). The Galapagos red bat is another major mammal in the isles, but not much information is know about them except that they are most active in the nighttime and during the day they sleep in trees (Land Animals, 2008). In addition to these sea creatures and mammals, there are also over “1600 species of insects in the Galapagos Islands” that include the painted locust, carpenter bee, sulphur butterfly, and green hawkmoth (Land Animals, 2008). Interestingly, some common insects found in many parts of the world such as “stick insects and mayflies” are not found in the islands (Land Animals, 2008).

The animals of the Galapagos Islands are mainly unique because of their ability to live with and for each other. These animals have not been exposed to many outside animals and have grown and evolved with each other. For the island to have some of these animals go extinct has made an impact on the other animals, just as it would in any other ecosystem.

Not only has the introduction of new animals and plants affected the island, but so has the presence of humans. The Galapagos Islands were discovered in 1535 but were not truly inhabited by humans until 1832, so the intrusion of humans has not been a long one (Galapagos Conservancy, 2008). However, in the last twenty years, tourism in the islands has sky rocketed and the population of the three inhabited islands in 2005 was 28,000 (Galapagos Islands, 2008). The number of tourists has risen “from about 41,000 in 1990 to more than 100,000 in 2005” (Galapagos Islands, 2008). Although there are strict rules and restrictions in place by the tourism industry in the islands, most of the people that have recently moved there or are touring there do not care about preserving the islands.

Fortunately, like stated above, there are some rules and restrictions on the Galapagos Islands that stop people from doing something as careless as throwing an empty



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