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More Than Just Tortoises
Purple vocanic island rises from gray ocean.  Near the equator and a few hundred miles off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean, there are 50 islands of various size that make up the Galapagos Islands. Most of us have visions of tortoises moseying through our heads when we think of the Galapagos, but here’s a different view to ponder. Seen here, Isla Fernandina is the westernmost of the archipelago that captured Darwin's imagination and eventually led to his theory of natural selection.

Vibrant green vegetation surrounds the crater of Fernandina Volcano, which erupted in a multi-megaton explosion in June of 1968. Since then, Fernandina has erupted, on average, every 4 years. The last eruption was in the winter of 1995.

But, what about those tortoises we always hear so much about? On Fernandina, the marine iguana is king. Like the eponymous tortoise, the marine iguana is found only in the Galapagos Islands. Of the islands, Isla Fernandina has the largest population of the marine iguana.

Why Fernandina? Those purple streaks seen reaching like tentacles from the summit to the ocean in the photo, are actually hardened lava. The iguanas lay around the hardened lava, thankful that it is a fabulous heat conductor. The ocean breeze cools the iguanas when they get too hot.

Image Courtesy NASA

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