Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
The Second Voyage of the Beagle
The Galápagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic islands about 1,000 kilometers off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. They were visited in 1835 by the British survey ship HMS Beagle, which sailed from 1831 to 1836 around South America and on to Australia before returning to Britain, gathering information along the way about safe landing places and navigable rivers. The most famous passenger aboard was the 22-year-old Charles Darwin.
Darwin spent most of the voyage ashore, surveying the geology of the land and collecting specimens of local fauna, flora, and fossils. As the voyage progressed, he kept a journal, and copies of the journal and his specimens were sent back to Britain. By the time Darwin returned home, he was a minor scientific celebrity.
Unbeknownst to his shipmates, the ideas that would become his famous theory were forming in Darwin’s mind during the voyage. A year after his return, Darwin sketched his “tree of life” diagram in a notebook, and went on to work out the theory of natural selection.
On the voyage, Darwin spent over a month surveying the Galápagos Islands. Because the islands were far from the nearest land, and because there were so many of them, ...