The Galapagos archipelago is located at a point where major ocean currents come together, mingling nutrient rich cool waters from the south, warm currents from the north, and a deep cold current from the west. This convergence of ocean currents has combined flora and fauna from contrasting environments, and given rise to unique marine species.
Nearly 20% of marine life in Galapagos is endemic, found nowhere else on earth. This level of endemism is rare for marine species, which tend to migrate and intermingle to a much larger degree than terrestrial (land-based) species.
The Galapagos Islands are home to the world’ s only marine iguana and the most northern-living penguin. Coral beds share the same waters as fur seals. Galapagos is one of the only places where pelagic species (species that live neither close to the bottom of the ocean nor near the shore) such as tunas, manta rays, and hammerhead sharks can be seen close to shore. No other site in the world showcases such a diversity of marine life forms.
Additionally, geological and biological processes in Galapagos have helped create a high variety of habitats relative to other marine areas in the eastern Pacific. Coastal areas include vertical cliffs, sandy beaches, rocky shores, mangroves, coral reefs, lagoons, and salt flats (hypersaline panne habitats). Submarine mountains, plateaus, ridges, and valleys provide habitat to an array of marine communities, while the open ocean waters attract stocks of pelagic fish.