Ocean in Motion

The islands are full of life partly because of where they formed. They sit at a crossroads where several ocean currents meet.

Some of this moving water is deep and cold. The Humboldt current is like that. The Cromwell current is like that, too. Two others are warmer. The Panama current is shallow and wide. The South Equatorial current moves from east to west.

All are moved by wind. The currents also move each other.

The waters and currents moving around Galápagos Islands support life.

Cromwell current

Peru Oceanic current

South Equatorial current

Humboldt current





Panama current

Cold water with more nutrients rises up to replace water that is pushed away. 

Surface winds push water away from the land. 


Strong winds and deep currents create upwelling. The ocean becomes full of food.

Wind and Water

On the surface, winds blow ocean water away. Deeper water rises to replace it. This is called upwelling. Upwelling stirs up water. It brings food to the surface. Many animals come to eat.

At times, the Humboldt current and the Panama current meet. When warm and cold water come together, they create a cool mist. Clouds form. Then the islands become hidden!

The cold Cromwell current comes from the west. It slams into the islands. It upwells. It swirls around the islands. Penguins and fur seals like the cold water.

mist and fog around Isabela Island

The South Equatorial current brings warm water. Together, all of these currents support life.

The islands were born of fire. They are helped by wind and water. They are full of life.