Galapagos Islands Travel Blog
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Friday, March 2, 2012
To speak of the Enchanted Islands is to be filled with the magic and nostalgia of all time and to see the archipelago from the air is to visualize this as the place where creation began and where it will end. The sea is not the same shade as the Carribbean, this is a mixture of places in different colors where the seals and their families are seen basking in the turquoise waters, and where the depth is made quite apparent by the intense shade of blue. To see the volcanoes which have literally given rise to these very different islands, some strikingly large and others decidely small, places where visitors can dream of spending a day, a year or even indefinitely observing the species which only exist here and which are usually only seen on a documentary or film on evolution. Green hillocks emerge from the sea as if intending to reach the sky in what is a unique place on the planet, only 1,050 kilometers from the Equator and discovered purely by accident in 1535 by Fray Tomas de Berlanga, the first person to set foot on the island when the ship in which he was traveling from Panama was dragged to the islands by the strong sea currents.
The first pirates were known to be aware of the islands by 1684, the time when Ambrose Cowley showed a distant place on the sea charts, a place where the tortoises were enormous and where there even existed animals from prehistoric times.
One significant factor equally indicated by the pirates as Fray Tomas de Berlanga is how tame were the animals which inhabited the islands. For many years the islands were used by the pirates as a place to rest, somewhere to bring and share out the treasure taken from the boats they had attacked, a place to carry out repairs on their boats and to stock up on food by taking the tortoises on board for a supply of fresh meat.
Conservationists say the islands haveactually lost numerous species due to human depradation during the 17th and 18th centuries. Officially the Archipelago de Colon, the islands also came to receive the name of the Galapagos Islands in honour of the gigantic tortoises which have lived here for millions of years.