Roughly every seven years since the last Ice Age, the Galapagos Islands experience the warm weather phenomenon called ‘El Niño’, a natural event laden with surprises and setbacks for its inhabitants. It affects wind direction, sea currents and storm patterns transforming it into the epitome of Darwinian evolution and reaction to change.
One species of Galapagos marine iguana literally shrinks its bones during El Niño, as food supply dwindles due to warm waters replacing the normally cool Humboldt Current. As ‘El Niño’ dissipates the iguana returns to its normal size.
If you embark on early morning hikes to see the iguanas, tortoises and birds of Galapagos, you´ll witness the effects of El Niño first hand.
Snorkeling, swimming and surfing in the unusually warm currents rewards you with sea lions, penguins and schools of fish, while your land hikes give you a first hand view of the birds, flora and fauna of these Enchanted Islands.
Let´s take a look at different Galapagos activities and what you could expect to see when doing each one:
Darwin’s seed eating finches have increased in population during past ‘El Niños.’ The six species of ground finches have historically thrived due to the fertile vegetation and corresponding abundance of seeds.
Charles Darwin Research Station and the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center
Land iguanas during the 1982-83 ‘El Niño’ thrived because their food source, cactus pads, flourished. The iguanas can’t climb and normally would have to compete with other creatures for the fallen pads, but the rapid growth of the cactus produced enough food for the reptiles to grow robust.
‘El Niño’ brings more rainfall with its warmer waters, the land becomes lush so the animals flourish. Include rain gear, decent insect repellent and light weight travel clothes in your packing list to protect limbs from bugs during the twilight hours.
Although the duration and severity of ‘El Niño’ is a hard science to master, National Geographic, the Japan Meteorological Agency, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology reported that this year’s event will be a strong one, lasting into the winter months but currently waning and expected to return to normal conditions by the North American summer.
‘The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself.’-Charles Darwin
Questions? Contact Galapagos Safari Camp for information about a unique adventure during ‘El Niño’ in the Galapagos and we will return your message promptly.