200 years ago, a ship was built – the legendary HMS Beagle. Launched on 11th May 1820, from the naval Woolwich Dockyard on the River Thames, little did we know that one of its captains would form part of a groundbreaking discovery in the Galapagos Islands that would change the world forever and spark Charles Darwin’s “Theory of Evolution”.
Legend has it, that the HMS Beagle circumnavigated the globe twice in its lifetime. And yet, one of its most life-changing journeys, was during a 5-week pit stop in the Galapagos. Leading the way was English officer of the Royal Navy and scientist, Captain Robert Fitzroy, along with a relatively unknown naturalist in the passenger list, Charles Darwin, as they sailed across the Galapagos archipelago. Initially, Darwin wanted to study active volcanoes in the region – but what they came across was much more profound and resulted in controversially altering what was then, the only scientific view on the biological origins of life.
Charles commented in his Darwin Finches: Readings in the Evolution of a Scientific Paradigm, that the Galapagos was, “Very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself; the greater number of its inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere else.” And to this day, the Galapagos still holds a mysterious and enchanting allure for every captain and passenger that has the opportunity to experience the islands for themselves.
Even after two centuries, the best way to discover Darwin’s Enchanted Isles is on the water. So, to truly celebrate the bicentenary of the HMS Beagle launch, we travelled to this remote archipelago to meet our very own modern-day Captain Galapagos – Segundo Guamán. This man has spent the last 23 years navigating travellers through the turquoise waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, so they too can explore the Galapagos Islands that are still brimming with other-worldly biodiversity. Here, we discover what it means to be a true Galapageño, while also tapping into the captain’s unrelenting determination to protect the Galapagos Islands’ unique ecosystem.
Captain Segundo Guamán passionately explains, “The islands are a part of my life. There is a real connection between the sea, the islands and the boat. The three come together as one and unify my life. My daughters are Galapageñas andI consider myself to be a Galapageño – I feel at one here.”
Over twenty years ago, Segundo turned his passion into vocation by becoming a sea captain and is now the main captain of The Archipell in the Galapagos. When asked what drew him to a life out at sea, a soft, knowing smile broke over his face and he said, “When I’m out at sea, I’m met with the most beautiful sunrises and a serene silence. It’s in these unique moments where I can truly reflect and be thankful that I get to wake up to this view every day. Even if they are only fleeting, because I have to think ahead, about the nature around us and about what is happening with the boat.” He stresses, “While my passengers rest, I have to be alert at all times to see the exact moment when the day changes”.
When it comes to sustainability in Darwin’s enchanted isles, Segundo couldn’t be more adamant that, “We need to be aware of the importance of conservation, so as to not keep damaging these islands”. He continues, “To conserve the islands, it’s essential to not only think about ourselves and what we can do as one person, but what “we” as a collective group of people in the community can do to be an instigator for change.”
Segundo holds a strong sense of pride in keeping sustainability at the forefront of his mind while out at sea, with every crew member playing a vital part towards helping to protect the Galapagos Islands from plastic pollution and debris in the water. He explains, “To avoid pollution, it’s my responsibility to ensure the crew understands how their day to day life effects the environment. They are fully aware and know that we should not contaminate, that we have to recycle and do our part in supporting the conservation effort across the archipelago.”
Segundo poignantly reiterates, “It’s my job to make my crew aware of it, because in reality, this comes down to the future of our children. He continues, “It’s not just about today. We have to make conservation a priority for the sake of future generations. It’s a beautiful place, and it must be protected.” Alongside his unrivalled local knowledge and keen expertise, we’re truly humbled by Segundo’s unrelenting passion to encourage conservation in the Galapagos Islands and are proud to have him show our travellers the way.
Darwin, the evolutionary biologist, shone a particular spotlight on this side of the world back in the 19th Century, that helped single-handedly change the way we think about evolution today. However, since his ground-breaking research shook the world, he has unknowingly passed the torch to the Galapageños and captains like Segundo Guamán who are now making great strides to preserve the true magic of the Galapagos, so people can continue to see through the eyes of Darwin.
To find out more information about our trips to the Galapagos Islands, click here.