The iconic Darwin’s Arch rock formation in the Galapagos has collapsed

May 19, 2021

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One of the most famous and photographed sights in the Galapagos Islands, Darwin’s Arch, has collapsed and fallen into the Pacific Ocean. Officials in Ecuador, which the remote islands are a province of, say natural erosion caused the natural archway to fall on Monday.

The official Twitter handle of Ecuador’s Ministry of Environment shared a photo taken shortly after the arch collapsed.

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Darwin’s Arch was located less than a mile from the uninhabited Darwin Island. Both spots are named after scientist Charles Darwin, whose visit to the Galapagos in 1835 had a great influence on his theory of evolution and natural selection.

The waters around the arch were popular with divers and tour boats due to its plethora of sea life that includes turtles, dolphins and sharks.

Natural erosion is a problem many natural and long-standing landmarks face, but according to UNESCO (U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), the Galapagos are one of the most vulnerable places on the planet because of climate change.

The archipelago, which is made up of dozens of islands of various sizes, is located at a crossing of three ocean currents and are vulnerable to the El Niño weather system, which can cause Pacific Ocean waters to warm up quickly. Those warming waters pose a major threat to the incredibly varied species on the islands.

The allure of the Galapagos may also threaten its future. Before the pandemic, conservationists worried the increase in visitors was putting undue stress on the islands’ fragile eco-system.

Related: How to visit the Galapagos using miles and points

Travellers can actually visit the Galapagos right now, despite the CDC placing Ecuador on a Level 4 Travel Health Notice in April due to high COVID-19 activity in the country.

There are specific travel requirements for traveling to Galapagos Islands that you can read in detail here. Anyone flying in to Quito or Guayaquil International Airport, which provide flights to the Galapagos’ two main airports, must present a vaccination card showing the passenger is fully vaccinated or a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 96 hours before arriving in the Galapagos. The negative test results mean travellers will not have to quarantine upon arrival.

Keep in mind there are no direct flights to the Galapagos from the United States. You must first fly in to either Quito or Guayaquil, Ecuador’s two biggest cities, and then hop on one of the daily flights to either Seymour Airport (GPS),  on the island of Baltra, or San Cristobal (SCY), which is on San Cristobal Island. Three airlines offer flights to the Galapagos: Avianca, LATAM and Ecuador’s biggest carrier, TAME.

Featured image by: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

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