It should come as no surprise to anyone: the Galapagos Islands have been named a finalist in the New Seven Wonders of Nature online competition! A few years ago, millions of people around the world voted for the New Seven Wonders of the World, and among the winners were South America’s Christ Redeemer stature and Machu Picchu in Peru. Now, the competition is different: only the most beautiful and remarkable natural places will be considered. The Galapagos Islands are naturally among the first places that come to mind, so when the field was narrowed from 77 to 28, it was no surprise to see that Galapagos had made the cut!
An Ecological Message
This new competition, which is being followed closely around the world, has a new ecological angle to it. The official slogan for the competition is “If we want to save anything, we first need to truly appreciate it.” In other words, there must be a profound understanding of any given ecosystem or area before efforts can be made to preserve it. Nowhere is this truer than in Galapagos, where ongoing preservation and conservation efforts go hand-in-hand with study and scientific work.
Amazon Also a Finalist
Ecuador is pleased to have not one, but two finalists! In addition to the Galapagos Islands, the Amazon Basin is also among the 28 beautiful places to make the cut. Other nations such as Brazil, Peru and Venezuela are also represented by the Amazon. It made the cut because of the amazing biodiversity of the system, which is unmatched in the entire world. Other South American finalists are Angel Falls (Venezuela) and Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil). Good luck to all the finalists!
Why Vote for Galapagos?
Compared to the enormity of the Amazon Basin, Galapagos is a very small archipelago lost far out in the ocean. To give one illustration, the Amazon is home to over three hundred species of reptiles: Galapagos has only iguanas, tortoises, lava lizards, geckos and snakes. The total is fewer than ten if you don’t count all of the different sub-species and under 25 even if you use the most generous count. Can they really be compared?
The natural value of the Galapagos Islands does not lie in diversity: in fact, it’s just the opposite. Galapagos is a harsh, remote land, and the species that arrived there did not survive by diversifying, but rather by evolving specific traits to suit a certain niche in the environment. Although natural selection takes place all over the globe, nowhere is it more evident than in the Galapagos Islands. It is this status as a “Laboratory of Evolution” and its historical inspiration of naturalist Charles Darwin that make Galapagos special. The Galapagos Islands are also extremely pristine: no other place on earth is as free of introduced and invasive species.
Galapagos is also extraordinary because of the unique experience one has while visiting it. Because it was so isolated for so long, Galapagos wildlife never developed a fear of humans. In the Amazon, it’s nearly impossible to see large animals such as a jaguar, whereas in Galapagos you need to watch your step or you may inadvertently tread on native wildlife!
How to Participate
Voting on the New Seven Wonders of Nature is still open! Go to:
to register your vote for the most stunning natural places on Earth. Signing up and voting is easy!