Galapagos Travel to Find Endemic Species

Pristine environments are getting harder to find here on earth. Humans since the dawn of time are renowned for traveling with species they have found useful and valuable over time. Many species have also adapted to using humans as their mode of transport without the agreement or knowledge of their human carriers. It is, in fact, hard to find places where an introduced organism has not arrived and established itself, with or without the conscious help of humans. Out in the Eastern Pacific Ocean there is such a place and we will take you there on our Galapagos cruise.

The Galapagos Islands lay directly on the equator 600 miles west of the South American mainland. Colonization of the Galapagos Islands by organisms from the outside has been a rare event. Isolation over millions of years from mainland ancestors, mutation and genetic drift topped off by natural selection has resulted in some of the most unusual and unique life forms found on earth. Compared to a tropical rainforest, the Galapagos has only a fraction of the number of species. Any interruption of the delicate web of inter-related dependencies can cause havoc.

En·dem·ic (ĕn-dĕmik) adj.1. prevalent in or peculiar to a particular locality or people. 2. Ecology. Native or confined to a certain region; having a comparatively restricted distribution.

These are the islands discovered by humans in 1535. Discovered late in the history of human exploration, a small fleet of wooden sailing ships drifted into the archipelago unintentionally. Soon afterwards, and for the next five hundred years, vessels have approached, anchored, landed and discharged any number of foreign organisms onto the islands.

The islands, islets and rocks with nothing of note to the earliest human settlers have been for the most part left alone (i.e., those without freshwater). Galapagos is exceptionally fortunate to still have “pristine” islands.

Pris·tine (prĭstçn′, prĭ-stçn) adj. Of, pertaining to, or typical of the earliest time or condition; primitive or original. 2. Remaining in a pure state; uncorrupted.

Here, the flora and fauna remain unchanged and unaffected by outside influences and the Park service keeps a close watch on all transportation to and between islands. On our Galapagos cruise, our itinerary takes us to some of the most remarkable, pristine habitats in the archipelago where breeding colonies of endemic sea birds, marine mammals and reptiles behave as they have for millennia.

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