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Galapagos > History

Galapagos history


Galapagos Islands, girls on the beachThe 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 Spain.

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.

Galapagos tortoiseThe 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.

Along 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.

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