Charles Darwin Reached the Galapagos Islands 173 Years Ago

Charles Darwin Reached the Galapagos Islands 173 Years Ago

At age 22, young Darwin found an opportunity to sail around the world on board the surveying vessel, the HMS Beagle, as a companion to captain Robert Fitzroy, leaving temporarily aside his education at Christ College, Cambridge.

 

A journey initially estimated by Fitzroy to last three years, was on its fourth year and had one more to go before the HMS Beagle would return to England in 1836. Five years that would reshape Darwin’s way of understanding natural history, and produce his masterpiece years later, which turned into one of the most revolutionary ideas of human thinking.

 

The HMS Beagle finished producing the navigational charts of parts of the southern South American coast, when Fitzroy decided to stop briefly at an archipelago that had just been claimed by the young Ecuadorian Nation. This stop was merely a technical one, as the Galápagos Islands were known only for being the last place to fill water tanks and collect food when crossing the Pacific Ocean.

 

Once in Galapagos, the HMS Beagle stayed five weeks, calling at only four islands, where Darwin spent very little time. Initially disappointed by the arid vegetation, Darwin’s fascination grew with every new day in Galápagos. Here he made a large collection of flora, fauna and minerals. Years later, upon closer analysis by him and other leading scientists, differences and similarities became evident among some terrestrial bird species, that until now remain as icons of evolution and even bear his name, the Darwin Finches.

 

In 2009, Galapagos will be the Center of Celebrations, as several important dates will come together: 200 years of Charles Darwin’s birth, 150 years of the publication of his book, “The Origin of Species”, and 50 years of the Galápagos National Park creation.

 

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