You can’t talk about the Galapagos Islands without mentioning Charles Darwin and how he was inspired to change the course of science, and indeed history, after his visit here 150 or so years ago.
However, the legacy of Charles Darwin lives on in more than just the theory of evolution. Science is an ongoing process of discovery and it is thanks to research and continued dedication of scientists that we can unlock the secrets of the world, especially here in the mysterious Galapagos Islands. And this year celebrates another important milestone in that process.
Fifty years ago in January 1964, a small ceremony was held in a clearing surrounded by cactuses, and the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) was officially inaugurated on Santa Cruz Island. It was to be the operative arm of the Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), an independent and non-governmental scientific organization dedicated to research in the Galapagos. It was a big step for Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, meaning full-time research could be carried out into the exceptional flora and fauna of the islands. It also was a significant step towards preserving the islands for future generations.
This was, you have to remember, a time when conservation and preservation were relatively new and many of the giant tortoises were being sold either as food or pets. Ecuador and the Galapagos definitely needed this development and it happened at just the right time. The station itself was an idea backed by the government of Ecuador as well as UNESCO, as had been the decision to turn the islands into a national park.
The CDRS and CDF also supported and suggested the creation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve and its inclusion onto the World Heritage Site List. Since its inception in 1964, countless scientists have been brought together and the incredible flora and fauna has been preserved far better than would have otherwise been possible without the research station’s expert advice and action.
All of this means that today, thankfully a Galapagos custom vacation means you have the opportunity to see these incredible islands, marvel at the wildlife and travel safely in the knowledge that you are doing as little damage to this pristine environment as possible.
Let’s hope that the CDRS enjoys another fifty years of protecting Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands so that future generations can enjoy them as we have.