This was the last day of our cruise on the Galaxy 2. After being pampered with first-class accommodations, food, service, and excursions, I think we were all in a little bit of denial that it was over. It was evident by the last-minute packing before breakfast.
Our last day was spent on the island of San Cristobal. This island is on the eastern side of the archipelago and is the administrative capital of the Galapagos Islands. The provincial capital, Puerto Banquerizo Moreno, is a pretty sleepy beachside town with the main street hosting some souvenir shops and restaurants. It sees a fair amount of tourists, but is nothing compared to the hustle and bustle of Puerto Ayora.
The morning was spent at the Charles Darwin Centro de Interpretacion. This Galapagos National Park’s exhibition centre has displays on geology, climate and conservation, attempts at colonization, and of course Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution and natural selection.
The Galápagos Islands were (are) harsh, volcanic islands that were difficult for animals (human and otherwise), to thrive. Inspired by the Galapagos islands, Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution by natural selection. Behaviour and characteristics of a species changes when it is necessary to adapt to the environment. Those that are most fit, survive; those that are less fit, are eliminated. This is natural selection. From generation to generation the most favourable characteristics are passed on which allows for better adaptation. For this reason, the organisms that inhabit the Galapagos Islands are quite different from their ancestors on the mainland.
Evidence of this evolution is illustrated in the adaptations of Darwin finches and other animals. There are 13 species of finches, one for each of the Galapagos Islands. Each of these species are very similar except for the beak. The difference in the beaks shows how they adapted to the food available on the different islands. One beak is good for sucking blood, another for sticks, another for crushing nuts.
Another example of adaptation is the flightless cormorant. This bird now has very small wings and is unable to fly. This change occurred because the food supply on ground was abundant and there was no need to take flight. A third example is the marina iguana. The lack of food on the lava forced them to find food in the sea. Other iguanas in the world can swim, but the Galapagos marine iguanas are the only ones that dive under water for food and can stay there for 30 minutes!
Charles Darwin spent five years in the Galapagos Islands in the 1830s onboard the British ship the Beagle. He did not publish his theories until 1859 in “On the Origin of Species”. This book and his theories challenged the traditional biblical story of creation and thus rocked the Western world! How fortunate to have spent time in these islands that helped shape our modern day thinking.
We bid our shipmates adios. There were some fine people aboard the Galaxy 2 and it would’ve been nice to spend a bit more time with them. Maybe someday we will see some visit us in Canada! We, however, were leaving the Galapagos Islands the next day.
The afternoon was spent at a restaurant along the main street attempting to catch up on our blogs. Once again, Wi-Fi was unreliable and the hours spent were a waste of time except that Rachel and Alex were able to find us excellent accommodations in Quito through Airbnb.
Our last ferry was taken, this one from San Cristobal to Santa Cruz where we spent our last night in the Galapagos islands. What a treat!