Charles Darwin Galapagos Islands video

Galapagos Expedition Journal: In the Footsteps of Charles Darwin

In the first post, I described our arrival on the island of San Cristobal and our first visit to a Galapagos beach. In the second installment, I described what it was like to swim with sea lions.

We arrived on the third day of our expedition at Floreana, one of two islands on our itinerary that were visited in 1835 by Charles Darwin. Back then it was known as Charles Island, which was named not for the famous father of the discovery of evolution, but after King Charles II of England. reana, wrote in his journal: “This archipelago has long been frequented, first by the bucaniers, and latterly by whalers, but it is only within the last six years, that a small colony has been established here. The inhabitants are between two and three hundred in number; they are nearly all people of colour, who have been banished for political crimes from the Republic of the Equator, of which Quito is the capital. The settlement is placed about four and a half miles inland, and at a height probably of a thousand feet.”

Darwin also noted that on Charles “the staple article of animal food is supplied by the tortoises. Their numbers have of course been greatly reduced in this island, but the people yet count on two days’ hunting giving them food for the rest of the week. It is said that formerly single vessels have taken away as many as seven hundred, and that the ship’s company of a frigate some years since brought down in one day two hundred tortoises to the beach.”

We were to see no tortoises on Floreana, but the scenery seemed to be as Darwin described it: “Higher up, the woods gradually became greener; and as soon as we crossed the ridge of the island, we were cooled by a fine southerly breeze, and our sight refreshed by a green and thriving vegetation. In this upper region coarse grasses and ferns abound.”

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