The island of Floreana was once home to the Floreana mockingbird, one of four endemic species of mockingbirds only found in the Galapagos Archipelago. The introduction of cattle, goats, cats and rats by humans since the 1800’s caused dramatic changes in the ecosystem of Floreana, including heavy grazing on the island’s vegetation and predation on nests and adult birds, such as the Floreana mockingbird.
Fortunately, two islets off the coast of Floreana remained free of introduced species of mammals and currently represent the last strongholds for the Floreana mockingbird: Champion and Gardner. In 2007, an ambitious plan to restore this species in its former territory was launched and consists of three phases:
In 1835 Charles Darwin described the Galapagos Islands as a “living laboratory”. Fortunately centuries later the islands are still a haven for unique flora and fauna, but there is a growing threat – tourism. In an effort to protect the native animals, new cruising restrictions will come into effect in 2012, but more can be done to travel responsibly in the region.
Intrepid’s Active Galapagos is a great example, because you stay on the islands and support communities by dining in local restaurants, rather than just running up a tab on the boat. And as Sean Kennaway discovered, your wildlife encounters will still be amazing…
“This island-hopping trip explores the Galapagos by panga boats and you stay in hotels, which means you have more time to meet the locals…”
Amazing wildlife, both on land and underwater, is the drawcard of the remote Galapagos Islands. It’s not an easy part of the world to reach and you need a good sense of adventure to explore the rugged terrain, but as Intrepid Express reader Michele Delaforce discovered, the Galapagos have a unique way of making it worth your while…
“Swimming with the sea lions at San Cristobal in the Galapagos Islands was one of the most exciting and memorable times of my life. We had to walk for an hour to reach a cove that was quite difficult to get to, but the rewards were worth it!
If there was an award for being on the most Seven Wonders lists, then Galapagos Islands could get that gong! Natural travel wonders, underwater world and a New Seven Wonders of Nature finalist, Intrepid’s Daniela Palacios gives this amazing archipelago her seal of approval…
“Having recently spent time in the Galapagos Islands, I must say that I was fascinated by pretty much all the wildlife there, but one of my favourite things was to watch the sea lions in action.
First of all, in the Galapagos you find fantastic beaches where the sea lions relax after the excitement of fishing. A white sand beach in Espanola Island, called Gardner Bay, is a great place to see a sea lion colony. The dominant males are around with their harems and you can always see lovely sea lion pups.