Where can you find more varieties of creatures in relation to habitat size than anywhere else on earth? Why, the Galapagos Islands of course! And while it may be out of reach for some of us to visit the islands, an IMAX experience could be the next best choice!
Galapagos: Nature’s Wonderland in IMAX 3D, narrated by Jeff Corwin, takes viewers on a stunning visual journey across the 16 islands (and many islets) to experience the biodiversity of this geographical gem. On this trip, moviegoers learn how the islands developed and evolved over four million years, and get up close with the creatures who now call it home.
Interestingly, it’s the creatures of Galapagos that tell scientists so much of the story. The islands themselves are diverse: they sit on a continually moving tectonic plate and were formed by repeated volcanic action. Because of it, each island is at its own stage of evolution, offering a range of habitats within the archipelago.
Over time, the islands’ creatures have proven they will adapt to the conditions provided in order to survive. Charles Darwin visited the islands in 1835, and used his observations to describe evolutionary change in his later writings.
For example, the black marine iguana only exists in the Galapagos. Scientists theorize its ancestors once traveled months at sea to arrive from South America, and over the years adapted. Now this creature can hold its breath for up to an hour finding food under the sea. Yet, the waters can be cold so marine iguanas also developed black skin to attract sun and warm themselves on the shore. These are traits individual only to marine iguanas.
The Galapagos cormorant, or flightless cormorant, also illustrates the evolutionary story, with major differences from other cormorants. Over the course of years, because this species had no predators and needed to swim for food rather than fly, its wings shrunk. Its wings are about one-third the size that would be needed for a bird of its proportions to fly.
The Galapagos penguin, the film states, likely arrived when its ancestors were swept on a current from Antarctica. Over time, the penguin evolved and became half the size of its ancestors. Unlike other penguins that have a distinct annual breeding season, these birds can breed at any time. The breeding flexibility allows it to take advantage of the unpredictable times when food supply may be at its greatest in the Galapagos.
These creatures are just a tiny sample of the animal diversity in the Galapagos, which you can learn more about in the film. Nearly 20 percent of Galapagos marine life is endemic, found nowhere else on earth. And just as fascinating—about 80 percent of land birds, 97 percent of reptiles and land mammals, and more than 30 percent of the plants living on Galapagos are endemic.
Galapagos: Nature’s Wonderland in IMAX is an exciting adventure that uses computer technology and graphics to help us visualize the changes to the islands over millions of years. The film allows us to see right before our eyes how the land evolved, and how creatures literally changed sizes, shapes, and features over the years to adapt to their surroundings. Because so many plants, animals, and nutrients have literally been swept—by wind or by sea—to the Galapagos from other parts of the world, the film brings to the forefront the reality that every single organism on our planet is truly connected.
If you live near an IMAX theater, check your local listings for times and dates that Galapagos: Nature’s Wonderland is playing, and check out the trailer here.
If you ARE planning to visit the Galapagos, do a lot of research on tour companies. You want to look for businesses that conserve natural resources, minimize human impact, and protect the biodiversity of the islands. You can also find Galapagos conservation organizations online to learn more about being a “green” traveler or to support their protection efforts.
-By Elaine DeSimone
Link to trailer: