- An international team of marine scientists have discovered 30 new species of invertebrates in deep water surrounding the Galapagos.
- The deep-sea experts discovered fragile coral and sponge communities including 10 bamboo corals, four octocorals, one brittle star and 11 sponges — as well as four new species of crustacean known as squat-lobsters — the Galapagos National Park (GNP).
- These discoveries include the first giant solitary soft coral known for the Tropical Eastern Pacific, a new genus of glass sponge that can grow in colonies of over one meter in width and, colorful sea fans that host a myriad of associated species.
- The expedition explored for the first time three steep-sided underwater mountains, or seamounts, located near the islands of Darwin and Wolf in the archipelago’s north. The area is home to the world’s largest shark population.
Back to basics
- The Galapagos archipelago, located west of Ecuador, is a fragile ecosystem that harbors the largest number of different animal species on the planet.
- The islands are formed at the meeting point of three tectonic plates—the Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific.
- They are situated at the crossroads of three major Pacific currents: Cold South Equatorial Current, Warm Panama Current and Deep sea Cromwell Current.
- The giant tortoises found here – Galápagos– give the islands its name.
- The first World Heritage Site in the list is the Galápagos Islands, while the countries with the largest number of sites (including sites shared with other countries) are China and Italy, both with 55 entries.