Story at a glance

  • Darwin’s Arch is a natural bridge on the northernmost island of the Galapagos Archipelago, Darwin.
  • The arch collapsed as a result of natural erosion, according to local authorities.
  • The area was not open to the public and remains a conservation site for sharks and other species.

Almost two centuries after Charles Darwin made his mark on the Galápagos, natural erosion brought down Darwin's arch on the island named for the English naturalist. 

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Darwin, the northernmost island of the Galápagos Archipelago, is the site of an extinct volcano and scientists believe the arch may have been part of the remains from magma and lava flows. 


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The island is not open for land visits and only accessible via the sea, home to sharks and other marine life that are now the subject of several conservation efforts. The area is popular with divers, a group of whom reportedly "witnessed the arch falling into the sea, leaving behind only pillars" at 11:20 a.m. local time on May 17, which was later confirmed by local authorities and the Galápagos Conservation Trust. 

 

"It really was an icon of the Galápagos landscape and a marker for one of the most awe-inspiring wildlife experiences on Earth, as beneath the waves can be found one of the largest aggregations of sharks in the world," Jen Jones of the Galápagos Conservation Trust told The Guardian. "The collapse of the arch is a reminder of how fragile our world is. While there is little that we as humans can do to stop geological processes such as erosion, we can endeavour to protect the islands’ precious marine life."


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Published on May 18, 2021