May 19, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Galápagos Islands tourist attraction Darwin's Arch collapses

Images of Darwin's Arch before and after the collapse in the Galápagos Islands, near Ecuador. Photo: Reinhard Dirscherl\ullstein bild via Getty Images

Images of the Galápagos Islands' Darwin's Arch before and after the collapse. Photo: Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images/Hector Barrera/Ministry of Environment for Ecuador

Darwin's Arch in the Galápagos Islands, "considered one of the best places on the planet to dive" and observe marine species, has collapsed, the Ministry of Environment for Ecuador has announced.

Why it matters: Although the ministry said the collapse of the 140-feet-high rock formation Monday was due to natural erosion, it casts a spotlight on a region that the United Nations has classified as "one of the world's most vulnerable places to the effects of climate change," per the New York Times.

Of note: The tourist attraction and the nearby Darwin Island are named after the scientist Charles Darwin, whose study of species in the volcanic archipelago helped solidify his theory of evolution.

  • But "warming waters" pose a grave threat to the species that Darwin observed, the NYT notes.

Threat level: The UNESCO World Heritage-listed islands are at the "intersection of three ocean currents and are vulnerable to the El Niño weather system, which causes rapid warming of Pacific Ocean waters," the Times reports.

  • Another Pacific island, Easter Island, southeast of the Galápagos archipelago, known for its moai statues, is already facing the threats of sea-level rise, coastal inundation and erosion, according to a UNESCO report.
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