Volunteer in Galapagos Islands - Ecuador
The Galapagos Islands are located on the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, about 960 km from continental Ecuador. The islands have a volcanic origin, and consist of 13 large islands, six smaller islands, and forty-two small, barren islets.
Millions of years ago, continuous under-sea volcanic eruptions produced huge masses of submarine rock, which pushed upward to the surface of the sea. The submarine volcanoes gave origin to these islands, which comprise one of the most amazing places on Earth.
The Galapagos Islands were declared a National Park on 1959, and were designated a World Humankind Patrimony in 1979. The islands are also a Marine Resources Reserve (since 1986), a Whale Sanctuary (since 1990), and a Marine Biological Reserve (since 1996).
The Galapagos Islands have been an “evolution laboratory” since the English scientist Charles Darwin visited them on 1835. Darwin spent five weeks studying the unique flora and fauna of the islands, and this remarkable place became one of the cornerstones for his revolutionary book about evolution, “On the Origin of Species”.
The islands are inhabited by widely diverse fauna such as giant turtles, sea lions, penguins, land and marine iguanas, gulls, blue-footed and red-footed boobies, masked boobies, and finches (of course!). Viewing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitats makes visiting the Galapagos an unforgettable experience.
During the 1960’s, the first tourism operations started in the Galapagos Islands. Since the beginning, the delicate environments have been responsibly and carefully protected, but the popularity of the islands has been the development engine for the ecological tourism industry. Today, tourism accounts for 80% of the income for the islands, and is the major base of the economy. Other sources of income are fishing (6%), cattle (5%), general merchandise (4%), crafts (3%), and general agriculture (2%).