Galapagos Islands

The Galápagos Islands is a group of volcanic islands in the Pacific Ocean. There are 19 islands with a total of 3,093 sq. Miles of land. They are located in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (575 mi) west of Ecuador.

Facts About the Galapagos Islands:

  • 97% of the Galápagos Islands is a national park
  • Giant tortoises have been on the Galapagos Islands for over 3 million years
  • The last volcanic eruption was in 2018 on the island of Isabela
  • The Galapagos giant tortoise can live for well over 100 years
  • The biggest town of the Galapagos Islands is Puerto Ayora.
  • The saddle-shaped shell tortoise has a long neck.
  • More than 150,000 giant tortoises were killed and only 20-25,000 live on the island today.
  • Most of the Giant Tortoise live on Alcedo Volcano or on Isabela Island.
  • The Galapagos Penguin pants so that it can keep cool and has very short feathers.
  • The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark has a binocular vision which means it can see 360 degrees.
  • There are 33 different species of sharks found around the Galapagos Islands.
  • The Scalloped Hammerhead Shark descends from the Wolf shark and the Darwin shark.
  • The Galapagos Sea Lion goes up to 15 kilometers out in the water in order to find food.
  • The baby sea lions stay in shallow water called cheches until they become great swimmers.
  • The Galapagos Sea Lion is thought to descend from the Californian Sea Lion.
  • The Blue-footed Booby is named after the word “Bobo,” which is a Spanish word.  The word means “clown.”  These birds are called this because they look funny and they make a lot of noise.
  • One Giant Tortoise was considered famous and his name was Lonesome George.  He was famous because he was the only Giant Pinta Island Tortoise that was left in the world.  He died in June of 2012 after living 100 years old.  He was the rarest creature found on the Earth.
  • There is an arch dedicated to Charles Darwin called “Darwin’s Arch” and it is located at Darwin Island, which is also dedicated to him.
  • Sea Lions on the island are tame and people can pet them even though it is not recommended.
  • There is a freshwater swimming area on the Island of Santa Cruz.
  • Most people that live on the Galapagos Islands are from the Mestizo ethnic group which means they are Spanish or Native American.
  • Only 5 of the islands have people on them and these include Isabela, San Cristobal, Santa Cruz, Baltra, and Floreana.
  • The Giant Tortoise of the island has either a domed shell which means that it lives on an island that is wetter and has more vegetables on the ground or a saddle-shaped shell which means that it lives on a drier island and eats tall plants.

How Many Islands Does Galapagos Islands Have?

Map of Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands have over 19 different islands and the oldest island was then Espanola.  This island is more than five million years old and it was made by magma or molten rock.

Espanola was formed when a volcano came from the seabed and eventually became an island.

Espanola moved after it was formed because of plate tectonic.  This plate tectonic was called Nazca.

The youngest island is called “Fernandina” and is found on the hot spot.

Volcanoes of Galapagos Island

The volcano that is found on the island of Fernandina erupted in 2009.  When this happens, it causes the islands to move.  In a million years, Fernandina will have moved 60 kilometers and a new island will be formed.

The Galapagos Islands sit over what is called a hotspot.  The hotspot is an area of the Earth’s crust that is melted by the mantle plume.  When this happens, volcanoes are formed.  Over the last 100 years, there have been over 13 different eruptions from the volcanoes on the Galapagos Islands.

Geological Conveyor Belt

The Galapagos Islands are always moving, and they move around 6 centimeters a year.  This happens because of plate tectonics.

Because the islands are always moving, they care called the geological conveyor belt because they move like a conveyor belt at the grocery store.

Where is the Galapagos Islands Found?

The Galapagos Islands are found on the Equator.  They are surrounded by different oceans and these oceans form currents.  The ocean currents are sometimes cold and sometimes warm.  Because of the different temperatures of the currents, many different animals live at the Galapagos Islands.

Ocean Currents

There are five different areas where the ocean currents reach the Galapagos Islands and four of them make warm ocean currents.

  • Panama
  • Equatorial
  • Cromwell
  • Humboldt

Animals of the Galapagos Islands

Sea lion at San Cristóbal Island, Galapagos

There are many, many animals and plants that are found on the Galapagos Islands.  It is believed that most of the animals found on the islands are descendants from South America.  It is believed that these animals traveled over 1,000 kilometers to get to the Galapagos Islands.

Some of the animals walked while others flew or blew in the wind.  Some of the animals even blew in on rafts made of leaves and twigs.

It is also believed that since there were no predators when the animals traveled to the island that the animals learned to change over time and they learned how to live on the island.

Some also believe that the animals on the island are not afraid of people because they did not have predators.

Some of the animals on Galapagos Island include:

  • Marine Lizards-these marine lizards are said to be the only marine lizards on the whole Earth.
  • Iguanas-The The iguanas are marine iguanas and they can stay underwater for more than 30 minutes before coming up for food.
  • Giant Tortoise-The Giant Tortoise is over 250 kilograms in weight which means that it is very heavy.  This tortoise can live for over 150 years and has a shell that is over 1.5 centimeters long.
  • Galapagos Penguin-this is the second smallest penguin found all over the world.
  • Scalloped Hammerhead Shark-swims in a school of sharks with over 100 sharks in the school.
  • Sea Lion– The sea lions like to hang out on the sandy beaches that are found on the island.
  • Lava Lizards-These lizards eat flies off the island.
  • Blue-footed Booby-This is a bird that lives on the island and is known for making a lot of noise by honking or whistling.
  • Darin Finches
  • Flightless Cormorant
  • Galapagos Land Iguana
  • Albatross
  • Waved Albatross
  • Red-footed Booby
  • Galapagos Hawk
  • Fur Seal
  • Nazca Booby
  • Lava Gull
  • Conolophus
  • Medium Ground Finch
  • Albatrosses

Why Are Animals of the Galapagos Islands in Trouble?

Many of the animals of the Galapagos Islands have seen trouble because of hunters and whalers.  Some people go to the island to hunt whales and seals so that they can trade their fir and use the whale for food and other things.

Even the Giant Tortoises have been killed and taken because they can give people protein and people hunt them for their fat.

What Are the Galapagos Islands Like?

Puerto Baquerizo Moreno

There are many, many small towns of the Galapagos Islands.  These towns have over 25,000 people that live in them.

The capital city of the Galapagos Islands is called Puerto Baquerizo Moreno.

These islands have over 3,000 miles of land that is over 17,000 miles of ocean.  There are 18 islands that are considered main islands and then there are three smaller islands found here.

There are over 107 islets that are made up of only rocks.

The biggest island, Isabela, makes up more than 2,250 miles or ¾ of the whole Galapagos Islands.

What Makes the Galapagos Islands Famous?


Galápagos marine iguana

The Galapagos Islands are famous because they had a very special visitor.

Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Island in 1835.  He used his time to study animals and because of his study, he wrote the book on evolution called “The Origin of Species.”

His book was based on all of the different species of animals on the Galapagos Islands.

The Charles Darwin research station on Santa Cruz Island is am amazing place to visit

Galapagos National Park

In 1959, the Galapagos Islands became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and became a national park.  This means that the island is protected.

The ocean around the area was considered a marine reserve and became a whale sanctuary in 1990.  A whale sanctuary is a place that whales cannot be hunted or killed.

What Did You Learn?

  • What are the Galapagos Islands?  The Galapagos Islands are a group of volcanic islands that are formed by volcanoes.
  • Where are the Galapagos Islands located?  The Galapagos Islands are located in the Pacific Ocean.  They are all across the line of the equator.
  • Do people live on the Galapagos Islands?  There are more than 25,000 people that are on different islands.
  • Why is the Galapagos Islands important for animals?  The Galapagos Islands are important because they have many animals that are only found there.  Some of the animals have evolved over time and have changed their way of living to survive on the island.
  • Why are the Galapagos Islands a place where there are many different animals?  The Galapagos Islands have many different animals because of the ocean currents.  The ocean currents are either hot or cold and because there are so many different ocean temperatures, the island has many different animals that live there.