Updated: Dec 5, 2020
The Galapagos islands are known by its huge biodiversity and for their wide range of endemic species. Species that you can't find anywhere else in the world. Such as the iconics marine iguanas and giant tortoises.
But, before we continue, a little bit of history...
Did you know that Galapagos Islands was one of the first ever designated UNESCO's World Heritage Site?
In 1978, the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and cultural Organisation (UNESCO), released the first list of 12 World Heritage sites for Humanity.
The Galapagos Islands were in that first list. Then in 1984, the Galapagos National Park, a biosphere reserve, was added. And later, in 2001, UNESCO extended the World Heritage site designation to the entire Galapagos Marine Reserve.
The Galapagos Marine reserve was created in 1986 with an are of 70,000 square kms (27000 square miles) and it was extended to its current area of 133,000 square kms (51,350 square miles), in 1998. Making it one of the biggest marine reserve in the world.
So, What makes it so unique?
The Galapagos Islands are so diverse because its volcanic activity that still shapes the Islands coasts and for the many different changing habitats that can be found across the islands (coral reefs, highland forests, sand dunes, etc). This is why you find so many endemic species due to this unique conditions.
Also, The Galapagos Islands are located in both sides of the Equator where 3 ocean currents collide, creating a unique area where warm and cold waters meet and generating perfect conditions for a huge diversity of marine species.
The south Equatorial or Cromwell current runs from the west and it’s a source of upwelling when it hits the islands bringing nutrients from the bottom to the surface layer.
The colder Humboldt current that runs north along the coast of south America turning west near the Equator.
And the warm Panama current that runs from north to south and turn west in the equator.
All the ocean currents, with different temperature and directions, provide the perfect conditions to deliver this amazing biodiversity.
Famous are the school of Hammerhead sharks. Galapagos is one of the few places on earth that you can see several hundreds of hammerhead sharks gathering together in large schools and the reason for this behaviour remain a mystery.
That's an amazing sight to never be forgotten!
But, there's more. Common sights also include the Whale shark! Huge pregnant females averaging 12 meters in length come here every year for reasons unknown.