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In the Galapagos, time got the better of Darwin’s Ark

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Darwin’s Arch, an iconic natural bridge rising up in the Galapagos Archipelago, collapsed amid waves a few days ago, a victim of natural erosion. The stone structure was so named to honor the legacy of biologist Charles Darwin, who was greatly inspired by the Galapagos for his work.

Of this natural arch located less than a kilometer from Darwin Island in the Pacific Ocean, only two enormous pillars remain. In a tweet, the Ecuadorian Ministry of the Environment emphasizes that the collapse, produced on May 17, is to be attributed to natural erosion. The event could even be observed live by divers aboard a vessel operated by Aggressor Adventures.

“Unfortunately, today our guests at Galapagos Aggressor III experienced a unique event. This morning at 11:20 am local time, the world famous Darwin’s Arch collapsed before their eyes ”, the company wrote in a Facebook post. “There are only two pillars left”, now called “pillars of evolution”.

Photos of the now collapsed arch. Credit: Aggressor Adventures

A real “living museum”

The volcanic island of Darwin sits on a rocky platform located about ten meters below the water’s surface, extending to the southeast, where the stone arch once stood. According to the local ministry, this one, would have at one time been part of the island which bears the same name, probably referring to the time when the sea level was lower.

The platform holding the island and its now destroyed arch then descends steeply for more than a hundred meters.

These two structures were named in honor of the biologist Charles Darwin, very inspired by the Galapagos in the 1830s to develop his theory of evolution. And for good reason, located at the confluence of three ocean currents, about 1,000 km from the South American continent, these islands are a veritable “melting pot” of marine species isolated from the rest of the world.

Note that while Darwin Island is off-limits to visitors, the waters off its coast are accessible. Here, hundreds of divers come regularly every year to observe the sharks, sea turtles, manta rays, dolphins and other reef fish that frequent the waters.

While we know that whale sharks, the largest known living fish, often swam around the island, a team of researchers recently found that some pregnant females also liked the area. The team then concluded that Darwin Island could play a role as a migratory stopover – perhaps for breeding purposes – for this species.


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