The Galapagos Islands were discovered in 1535 when father Tomas Berlanga, the bishop of Panama sailed to Peru to settle a dispute between Francisco Pizarro and his lieutenants after the conquest of the Incas.
The bishop’s ship stalled strong currents carried him out to the Galapagos.
His account of the adventure contained many facts about Galapagos: he described the harsh, desert-like condition of the islands, their trademark giant tortoises, marine iguanas, sea lions and the many sea birds.
Galapagos travel was rare and the islands were rarely visited. They became the refuge for pirates preying on en galleons and coastal towns.
Drew whalers and sealers, with the promise of fur seals and the giant tortoises, which could be kept alive in the hold of ships for up to a year with no food or water. The tortoise populations were decimated, causing the extinction of several species and endangering the rest. Today, only a single male of the Pinta Island tortoise species survives, named “Lonesome George.”
Species Recorded on the Islands
- Mammals: 32 species recorded
- Reptiles: 28 species recorded
- Darwin Finches: 13 sub-species recorded
- Sea Birds: 42 species recorded
- Shore Birds: 34 species recorded
- Water Birds: 21 species recorded
- Land Birds: 49 species recorded
Plants Found on Islands
Coastal Zone Plants:
- Black Mangrove
- Red Mangrove
- Button Mangrove
- Beach Morning Glory
- White Mangrove