The first time I knew I wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands was when I was studying abroad in Scotland. How are they connected, you ask? Well, hold on to your hats, because I’m about to get all nerdy on you.
While I was abroad, I took a class called History and Philosophy of Science with a friend of mine. She was studying science education, I was studying chemistry, and we both needed some sort of liberal arts credit. Anyways, one of the people we focused on for a class period or two was Charles Darwin. Now, obviously, everyone has heard of Darwin – he’s the evolution guy, right? Yeah, well, the Galapagos Islands were a big part of how he came to that theory. He joined a team of people who were sailing around the southern tip of South America, and they eventually stopped at the Galapagos Islands on the way home (they ended up circumnavigating the globe).[i] What Darwin discovered was that the finches differed between the different islands on the archipelago that makes up the Galapagos – the birds had adapted based on food sources and environment, which also differs between the islands. That’s right, folks. They adapted. Evolution!
So, I did a little research, because I would much rather learn about an island chain in the Pacific than about some stuffy British guy who wrote some stuff.[ii] And the wildlife is what made me want to go there so badly. Many of the birds, along with other critters that live there, are only find on that specific island chain. Also, the equator runs really close to the islands, if not right through them. It is different from any other place I have ever been, that’s for sure.
Here’s some more information about the islands, and then I’m going to just include pictures. Because pictures are worth a thousand words, and I want to convince you why I want to visit this beautiful place, after all.
The Galapagos Islands are located off the coast of Ecuador, at the confluence of three ocean currents. This unique location, combined with the amount of seismic activity that takes place in the area, has made for one of the most diverse and richest marine ecosystems in the world. The islands are also completely isolated, which has led to the development of unusual species, and has been an outstanding showcase of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
I give you, the Galapagos Islands.[iii]
Keep dreaming of equatorial warmth, Midwesterners.
[i] The ship they were on was called the HMS Beagle, and Darwin was staffed as the resident geologist and naturalist. He wanted to explore the land, and ended up making some pretty earth-shattering discoveries.
[ii] Granted, it was important stuff. Darwin’s Origin of Species is still read and referenced today, as is Voyage on the HMS Beagle.