Remarkable effects of ocean currents on the Galapagos Islands


Sea currents are the engine that makes the ocean the most dynamic system on earth. These streams of water move between steady waters or against other sea flows. They don’t mix with the surrounding water because each current has different characteristics such as saltiness, temperature and viscosity. The movements of the sea currents determine the distinct conditions of the ocean in each location. Every single coast, reef or archipelago in the world has special conditions. In the Galapagos, the marine conditions are very special.

Three large and strong sea currents influence the Galapagos marine life entering the archipelago constantly: the Humboldt Current, the Panama Flow and the Cromwell Current.

The Humboldt and Cromwell Currents come up from the dark depths, carried with massive amounts of nutrients. This organic matter, left over of decaying fauna and flora that sank to the bottom, very much defines the nature of the Galapagos.

When the deep traveling current hits the volcanic formations of the archipelago, all these nutrients are lifted in what we know as “upwelling”. This phenomenon offers the coasts and surroundings of the islands very rich waters in which most species rely their population. The base of the marine ecosystems, plankton, provides for the rest of the species and allows animals that are usually found in rich cold waters such as the penguins, orcas, albatross, among others, to establish and develop in the islands.

This is why the Galapagos is considered an “oasis of wealth in a desert of warm poor tropical waters”. These currents are stronger in the months of April to December, in the cold season; so nine out of twelve months a year, conditions are optimum for marine life to flourish. 28/9 29/9 3/10 17/10 24/10

Sea Horse on Galapagos