The Galapagos Islands are made up of 18 main volcanic islands in an archipelago of Ecuador. These islands and the surrounding waters make up a national park and a biological marine reserve. The young naturalist Charles Darwin developed his theory of natural selection explaining evolution after researching the Galapagos Islands. These amazing islands are part of the ongoing series for finalists in the New 7 Wonders of the Nature competition. In 2007, UNESCO put the Galápagos Islands on the “List of World Heritage in Danger” due to the threats posed by invasive species, unbridled tourism and overfishing. Time and again, poachers have come into the Galapagos National Park and slaughtered sea lions. However in July 2010, the World Heritage Committee removed the Galapagos Islands from the “endangered” list because significant progress had been made by Ecuador in addressing threats. Yet in July 2011, Ecuadorean authorities seized 357 dead sharks from a boat that was fishing illegally in the protected waters of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Since the Galapagos Islands have 170,000 visitors each year, new regulations have been introduced to protect the unique wildlife. Starting February 1, 2012, these new tourism regulations will limit vessels visiting the same site to no more than once during a 14-day period which may impact on travelers planning to visit the beautiful islands. So what do you think? Should the Galapagos Islands become one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature?


A squirming baby sea lion (less than 6 weeks old) on the beach of Espanola Island in the Galapagos
A squirming baby sea lion (less than 6 weeks old) on the beach of Espanola Island. Sadly, the beautiful Galapagos Island which are rich with diverse wildlife has battled with human beasts as a huge threat. In 2008, Galapagos National Park officials announced that 53 sea lions (13 pups, 25 youngsters, 9 males and 6 females) were killed at Pinta, Galapagos Islands nature reserve, with their heads caved in. In 2001, poachers killed 35 male sea lions.


Land Iguana at the Darwin Center, Galapagos


Red Sally lightfoot crab – Islas Plazas – Galapagos Islands


Galapagos tortoises mating.


This beautiful creature referred to as ‘dandelion’ was discovered by geologists during a 1977 expedition. Scientists now know that it is a siphonophore, a relative of the Portuguese man-of-war. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program Animals living near hydrothermal vents have to survive under harsh conditions like high pressure, steep temperature gradients, and high concentrations of toxic chemicals. Despite these seemingly inhospitable conditions, many animals do more than simply survive. They thrive. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Galapagos Rift Expedition 2011.


Giant Galapagos Tortoises.


Diamond stingray (Dasyatis dipterura) in the Galapagos.

Marine iguanas on Galapagos Islands.


Young eagle – Urbina Bay – Isabela Island – Galapagos Islands


Galapagos napping seal and crab.


Sea Lions Kissing.


Sea Lions – Gardner Bay – Espanola Island – Galapagos Islands


Sea Lions on Galapagos Islands


Wonder why they’re called blue-footed boobies?