Galapagos Islands History Garrett Dangerfield

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Discipline:
Social Studies
Subject:
Geography
Grade:
6

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Galapagos Islands History Garrett Dangerfield

The Galagapos IslandsHistoryBy: Garrett Dangerfield

The islands' first recorded discovery was on March 10, 1535, by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, who happened upon them accidentally while sailing from Panama to Peru. Some historians believe the islands were visited and used by groups of Incas as early as a century prior to de Berlanga's discovery, but this has never been proven.

By the 17th century, the Galapagos Islands became a popular hideout for British buccaneers who pirated Spanish ships and looted Spanish settlements in Central and South America. These buccaneers and British whalers used the islands as a source of food on long journeys.

Some 17th-century Spaniards claimed that the Galapagos Islands were not islands at all, but mere shadows.

In the past century, the Galapagos Islands have been given the official name Archipelago de Colon ("Columbus's Archipelago"), in honor of Christopher Columbus, by the government of Ecuador. In 1934, the first legislation to protect the islands was enacted. The archipelago was later named a national park and is administered by the Ecuadorian National Park Service to this day.

The first known human settler on the islands was Patrick Watkins, an Irish crew member on a British ship, who, for unknown reasons, was put ashore at Floreana in 1807. Accounts of how long he stayed there - and how he departed - vary, but eventually he returned to mainland Ecuador.

In 1835, Charles Darwin visited the islands while serving as official naturalist on the five-year voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. Until that time, the prevalent view in science was that species of plants and animals were immutable.

Since the 1964 establishment of the Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz, the Galapagos Islands have primarily become a site of increased scientific study and tourism.

Today, scientific expeditions, like the Frontiers trip to the islands, are important sources of information on how to conserve the delicate Galapagos ecosystems -- and, ultimately, the whole planet -- into the next century.

The Galapagos Islands are famous for animals that only exist only in this archipelago. These animals include the Galapagos Tortoise, Galapagos Iguana, and the Lava Lizard.


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