The first scientific mission to the Galapagos
arrived in 1790 under the leadership of Alessandro Malaspina, a
Sicilian captain whose expedition was sponsored by the King of
However, the records of the expedition were lost.
In 1793, James Collnet made a description of the flora and
fauna of Galapagos and suggested that the islands could be used as
base for the whalers operating in the Pacific Ocean.
He also draw the first accurate navigation charts of the islands.
Whalers killed and captured thousands of the Galapagos tortoises to
extract their fat.
The tortoises could also be kept on board ship as a
means of providing of fresh protein as these animals could survive for
several months on board without any food or water. The hunting of the tortoises was responsible for
greatly diminishing and in some cases eliminating certain races.
with whalers came the fur-seal hunters who brought the population of this
animal close to extinction. Ecuador annexed the Galapagos Islands on
February 12, 1832, naming it Archipelago of Ecuador.
This was a new name that added-up to several names that
had been, and are still, used to refer to the archipelago. The first governor of Galapagos, General
Jose de Villamil, brought a group of convicts to populate the island of
Floreana and in October 1832 some artisans and farmers joined.