Biodiversity in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands are a very good example of an area of rich biodiversity; it is the only place in the world where penguins and albatrosses live in the same region as coral reefs. There are a total of 19 endemic reptiles, 50 endemic fish, 5 endemic mammals, 250 endemic insects and 28 endemic birds including the Galapagos Penguin.
The Galapagos is becoming increasingly under threat due to a number of serious factors both physical and anthropological. These reasons include climate change, oil spills, population growth, alien species, growing tourist numbers and illegal fishing.
The population in the Galapagos Islands is currently 21,000 however this number is increasing by 8% a year due to natural increase but also migrants from Ecuador. Economic migrants are attracted to the area because of the potential to work within the growing tourist industry; however this work is unsustainable for families so they are forced to move towards illegal motives in order to earn money. One such illegal act is illegal fishing. This is particularly becoming a large problem due to the commercial enterprises that illegally fish within the boundaries of the Galapagos Marine Reserve. Some boats have been known to haul up dolphins, sea cucumbers and spiny lobsters which have high demand in eastern Asia.
Tourism is also an increasingly significant threat. Numbers have increased quite dramatically from 1,000 a year in the mid 1960s to 70,000 or perhaps more in the late 1990s. Half of the total amount of tourists that visit the Galapagos are from mainland Ecuador. In the mid 1980s a second airport was opened, in San Cristobal, in order to disperse and support increased tourist numbers. There is continued pressure for luxury hotels and the prominent result is evidence of increasing erosion of footpaths in key areas. Along with the arrival of humans to the Islands came introduced species of plants and animals. Many, having no natural predators or controls, exhibit...