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About The Galapagos Islands

Context:

Recently, a scientific expedition has discovered a previously unknown coral reef with abundant marine life off Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands.

Relevance:

Places in News

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Galapagos Island – A Unique Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean
  2. What are corals and how do they live?
  3. Key facts about Coral Reefs

Galapagos Island – A Unique Archipelago in the Pacific Ocean

Location:

  • Situated in the Pacific Ocean about 1,000 km from the Ecuadorian coast.
  • It is distributed on either side of the Equator.

Geology of the Island:

  • Begins at the sea floor and emerges above sea level where biological processes continue.
  • Three major tectonic plates Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific meet at the basis of the ocean.
  • Galapagos Island is very young compared to other oceanic archipelagos.
  • Isabela and Fernandina are the largest and youngest islands with less than one million years of existence.
  • Española and San Cristóbal are the oldest islands somewhere between three to five million years.
  • Mount Azul at 5,541 feet is the highest point of the Galapagos Islands.

Unique Features:

  • Galapagos Island is a wildlife spectacle with abundant life.
  • The island has a unique biodiversity with many species that cannot be found anywhere else.
  • Galapagos is known for its giant tortoises, marine iguanas, and blue-footed boobies.
  • It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1978.

What are corals and how do they live?

Corals are a type of marine invertebrate, meaning they are animals without spines. They live in colonies made up of thousands of individual polyps.

Polyps:

  • Each coral is called a polyp.
  • Thousands of polyps live together to form a colony.
  • Colonies grow as polyps multiply and make copies of themselves.

Symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae:

  • Corals have a symbiotic relationship with single-celled algae called zooxanthellae.
  • The algae provide the coral with food and nutrients, made through photosynthesis using the sun’s light.
  • Corals provide the algae with a home and key nutrients.
  • The zooxanthellae also give corals their bright color.

Key facts about Coral Reefs

  • Indonesia has the largest coral reef area in the world and the Great Barrier Reef of the Queensland coast of Australia is the largest aggregation of coral reefs.
  • India, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Chagos have the maximum coral reefs in South Asia.
  • Coral Reefs protect humanity from natural calamities acting as a barrier, provide revenue and employment through tourism and recreation and also provide habitats for fishes, starfish and sea anemones.
  • Coral blocks are used for buildings and road construction, the lime supplied by corals is used in cement industries and coral reefs may also be used in jewellery.

India has four coral reef areas:

  • Gulf of Mannar,
  • Andaman and Nicobar Islands,
  • Lakshadweep islands
  • Gulf of Kutch.
Risks and threats to coral reefs
  • Due to anthropogenic activities such as coastal development, destructive fishing methods and pollution from domestic and industrial sewage.
  • Due to increased sedimentation, over-exploitation and recurring cyclones.
  • Coral diseases such as black band and white band due to infectious microorganisms introduced by the human population that live on the coastal regions.

-Source: Indian Express


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