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GALAPAGOS ISLANDS :: ISABELA ISLAND :: SANTA CRUZ ISLAND
Located in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, the volcanic Galápagos Islands form a fascinating national park and biological reserve where visitors enjoy up-close encounter with some of the world's rarest wildlife. Some of the species that call the islands home are giant tortoises, blue- and red-footed boobies, land and marine iguanas, penguins, flightless cormorants, and sea lions. Equally abundant is the marine life, including dolphins, sharks, rays, moray eels, and over 400 species of fish. The oldest island is estimated at between 3 million and 10 million years old, while the youngest islands, Isabela and Fernandina, are still being formed. In addition to wildlife expeditions, activities include swimming with dolphins, scuba, snorkeling, surfing, and kayaking.
Isabela Island is the largest of the Galapagos Islands. In fact, it is larger than all of the other islands combined. One of the younger islands, it was formed by the joining of six shield volcanoes and except for Ecuador, all of these volcanoes are still active. Once a shelter for pirates and whalers, today it is home to roughly 1,800 people and more wild tortoises than all of the other islands. Each volcano has its own species of tortoise. Other notable wildlife includes dolphins, marine iguanas, pelicans, boobies, Darwin's finches, and more. It also offers the best place to see whales, with 16 identified species.
Spanish for "Holy Cross," Santa Cruz Island is the second-largest of the Galapagos Islands. Located in the center of the islands, Santa Cruz was developed by settlers from the U.S. and Europe between WWI and WWII. Today, it is home to the Charles Darwin Research Station, where visitors can learn about the flora and fauna, the issues concerning the islands, and the conservation programs. The Giant Tortoise Reserve allows visitors to witness different type of tortoises. Additional activities on the island include snorkeling, bicycling, birdwatching, scuba diving, and more.
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