Trace Darwin’s Footsteps with Google’s New Virtual Tour of the Galapagos Islands

As famous­ly stud­ied as they are, the 18 Gala­pa­gos Islands haven’t been well mapped. And research in the Gala­pa­gos, sit­u­at­ed more than 500 miles west of Ecuador, is expen­sive and dif­fi­cult. Maybe that’s part of the islands’ allure—that and the stun­ning bio­di­ver­si­ty.

In part­ner­ship with the Charles Dar­win Foun­da­tion and Gala­pa­gos Nation­al Park, Google sent a team armed with Street View Trekker cam­eras to cre­ate an entire­ly new 360 degree Street View expe­ri­ence that makes three major islands, a frag­ile tor­toise breed­ing area and coastal areas, avail­able to vis­i­tors locat­ed any­where with an Inter­net con­nec­tion.

Dar­win made his first expe­di­tion to the islands 178 years ago. This might have been his first view of San Cristo­bal Island.


After explor­ing San Cristobal’s rocky coast, Google trekkers made their way to Gala­pa­guera, a giant tor­toise breed­ing cen­ter, where they saw new­ly hatched babies and adults munch­ing on leaves and stalks.

Off the coast of Flo­re­ana Island, trekkers went under­wa­ter and caught images of seals play­ing in the water. They also shot images inside the Charles Dar­win Research Station’s ver­te­brate, inver­te­brate and plant col­lec­tions.

Google does a good job of doc­u­ment­ing its own process. Trekkers trav­eled to Gala­pa­gos in May and spent 10 days hik­ing, boat­ing, and div­ing. It’s fun to watch them climb and scoot around the islands loaded with a geo­des­ic cam­era back­pack.

Sci­en­tists get real­ly excit­ed when they find new tools to do their work. And why shouldn’t they? These islands are amaz­ing and are home to so many unique species, like the Marine Igua­na. We land­lub­bers may not get there any­time soon, but this is the next best thing.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Read the Orig­i­nal Let­ters Where Charles Dar­win Worked Out His The­o­ry of Evo­lu­tion

The Genius of Charles Dar­win Revealed in Three-Part Series by Richard Dawkins

Dar­win: A 1993 Film by Peter Green­away

Kate Rix writes about edu­ca­tion and dig­i­tal media. Fol­low her on Twit­ter.

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  • Guest says:

    Tech­nol­o­gy becomes a boon for every­one on this Earth.…Its nice to see about the Google Street View Trekker..Galapagos is very beau­ti­ful as well as expen­sive place to visit…It com­pose of many Islands and the best one which I would like the most is Dar­win Island.…Thanks for the post…

  • bill jo says:

    I pooped myself

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