8 Fun Facts about the Galapagos Islands
#1 97% of the Galapagos is a national park.
An astonishing 97 percent of the Galápagos landmass is designated a national park. Established in 1959, Galápagos National Park protects more than 3,000 square miles of islands and islets, while the Galápagos Marine Reserve protects an additional 50,000 square miles of ocean around the islands.
#2 Wild animals have little fear of humans
In the Galapagos, there is a lack of natural predators. Thus, the creatures found in the islands have very little natural fear of people. The Galapagos National Park has established key rules to help protect the animals and their habitats. Visitors must always remain at a minimum safe distance of 6.5 ft (2 m) from wildlife.
#3 The only place in the Northern Hemisphere where you can see penguins in their natural habitat.
The Galapagos hugs the equator, which is why one might consider this place tropical. However, the islands’ climate is unique thanks to the intersection of various marine and air currents. The Galapagos penguin is the second smallest species of its kind and is typically observed on the western islands of Isabela and Fernandina. Some colonies can be found within the central islands and as far south as Floreana.
#4 Marine iguanas are excellent swimmers.
Nearly 20% of the marine life in the islands is endemic to the area; this includes marine iguanas. These are the only lizards in the world who enjoy water so much that they’ve learned how to swim in it! They feed almost entirely on seaweed (algae).
#5 Brilliant boobies
The three species of boobies that inhabit the Galápagos can be distinguished by their color. Red-footed boobies are the smallest of the trio; blue-footed boobies flaunt their strikingly-hued feet to attract mates; and the Nazca booby, the largest of the three, can be identified by its brilliant white plumage and black-tipped feathers.
#6 Gentle giants
The islands’ giant tortoises—after which the archipelago is named—can survive up to one year without food or water. Tragically, this unique adaptation was a leading factor in their demise over the centuries, as thousands of tortoises were captured and stored onboard ships to provide fresh meat for sailors. More than 100,000 tortoises are estimated to have been lost, leading to the extinction of several species and pushing others to the brink.
#7 Stars in your eyes
Unobscured by light pollution, the night skies over the Galápagos are some of the most dazzling on the planet. With its unique position straddling the Equator, the archipelago also offers a rare opportunity to view the constellations of the both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres at the same time.
#8 Any time is a great time to visit.
Located near the equator, the islands experience a year-round temperate climate. There are, however, two markedly different seasons: a hot season, which sees warmer, humid weather from December through May, and a dry season, which is slightly cooler and extends from June through November. Depending on the season, the islands are either lush, green, and tropical or slightly barren, colorful, and arid. The islands see more rainfall in the hot season, which also features calmer seas and slightly warmer ocean temperatures around 79°F (26°C). Meanwhile, the dry season experiences southeast trade winds, which provide a wonderful breeze and signal an increase in marine activity. While you would expect the temperatures on the islands to soar, given their proximity to the equator, they actually remain quite comfortable. Throughout the year, average land temperatures range between 79° and 86°F (26.1° to 30°C), while ocean temperatures along the island coasts hover between 71° and 78°F (21.7° to 25.6°C).
Another cool feature of the Galapagos Islands is that the days and nights are of equal duration, so you’ll have plenty of chances to see the diurnal and nocturnal animals. Because of its tropical location, there is no need for daylight savings. Throughout the year, the Galapagos Islands see an average of 12 hours of sunlight each day
I will have a full report on my visit to the Galapagos when I return but I hope these fun facts have inspired you to want to visit and see them for yourself!
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