If up until now, you thought the marine life around the Galapagos Islands was very diverse, you’ve been wrong. There’s a lot more than that.

Scientists recently found the area has way, wayyy more non-native marine life than originally thought.

The marine science journal Aquatic Invasions published a study this week that recorded 53 non-native species of marine animals hanging out at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the study:

“Forty-eight (90.6%) of these species are newly reported or newly recognized as introduced, a nearly ten-fold increase from the five species previously recognized as nonindigenous.”

The researchers write that the majority of those new species were most likely brought to the area by ships:

“While we presume that most if not all of the many thousands of vessels arriving in the Galápagos Islands since the 1500s had marine animals and plants attached to their hulls, we hypothesize that the general absence in the Islands of extensive shoreline structures (in the form of wharves, docks, pilings, and buoys) until the last half of the 20th century may have constrained extensive colonization by fouling species.”

The increased number of wharves and docks built on the islands could be one of the causes of the increase in non-native critters, according to the report.

“Our results represent the greatest reported increase in the recognition of the number of invasions for any tropical marine environment in the world. This work suggests that the number and potential ecological impacts of nonindigenous species in tropical marine and maritime habitats may be substantially underestimated in other regions of the world.”

Consequently, the report’s authors call on scientists to further study tropical marine invasions in other parts of the world.

Read the full report here.


  1. Not only are there marine invaders, when visiting the islands in 2009 at one point we were touring Santa Cruz Island, up in the hills next to an old caldera well away from the town. There we saw European blackberry vines. Our hearts sank.

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