No Two Alike

Each island is unique. Española has soft white sand. Floreana has sand like brown sugar. You’ll also see tiny green specks of the gemstone peridot. And watch out! Genovesa’s beaches are made up of razor‑sharp rocks.

Older islands are more lush and green. They’ve had more time for plants and animals to grow and live. Erosion from wind and waves breaks rocks down into fertile soil. Trees and other plants take root. They create good places for animals to live.

Waved albatrosses
rule the skies over
the Galápagos islands.

Sea lions bask on volcanic rock.

Coming to Galápagos

The Galápagos are lightly populated. Five of the islands have only about 30,000 people. Yet, the islands host some of the strangest biodiversity in the world.

Most plants and animals living there today traveled from South America long ago. Some of the first animals were probably birds. Seabirds may have come to the islands for a resting or nesting place. They brought seeds from the mainland. Then those seeds took root and grew.

Over time, many plants have taken root and grown all over this island.

By Sea and By Air

Other seeds floated to the islands. Mangrove seeds are waterproof. They also are weighted on one end. Ocean waves carry them until they hit a shoreline. Then they tip, heavy‑side down, and take root.

Insects arrived on the island as well. Some species of beetle had wings strong enough to fly there. Galápagos spiders “ballooned” their way across the ocean, carried by the winds.

Long ago, giant tortoises floated to the Galápagos from South America.

Many Galápagos flowers bloom white or yellow. These colors draw the islands’ bees.

Carpenter bees arrived by mistake. They lay their eggs in driftwood. Some of this water‑born wood was carried by the ocean to the islands.

What about larger animals? Giant tortoises can’t swim, but they can float. Other reptiles may have floated, too. With no predators to gobble them up, these creatures settled into their new home.