The Galápagos Islands (official name: rchipiélago de Colón ; other Spanish names: Islas de Colón or Islas Galápagos) are an archipelago of volcanic islands distributed on either side of the Equator in the Pacific Ocean, 926 km (500 nmi) west of continental Ecuador, of which they are a part.
The Galápagos Islands and its surrounding waters form an Ecuadorian province, a national park, and a biological marine reserve. The principal language on the islands is Spanish. The islands have a population of slightly over 25,000.
The islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species. They were studied by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. His observations and collections contributed to the inception of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection.
The first navigation chart of the islands was made by the buccaneerAmbrose Cowley in 1684. He named the individual islands after some of his fellow pirates or after the British noblemen who helped the privateer's cause. More recently, the Ecuadorian government gave most of the islands Spanish names. While the Spanish names are official, many users (especially ecological researchers) continue to use the older English names, principally because those were the names used when Charles Darwin visited.
Sea lions are pinnipeds characterized by external ear flaps, long foreflippers, the ability to walk on all fours, and short, thick hair. Together with the fur seals, they comprise the family Otariidae, eared seals and there are six extant and one extinct species (the Japanese sea lion) in five genera. Their range extends from the subarctic to tropical waters of the global ocean in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, with the notable exception of the northern Atlantic Ocean. They have an average life span of 20–30 years. A male California sea lion weighs on an average about 300 kg (660 lb) and is about 8 ft (2.4 m) long, while the female sea lion weighs 100 kg (220 lb) and is 6 ft (1.8 m) long. The largest sea lion is the Steller's sea lion which can weigh 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) and grow to a length of 10 ft (3.0 m). Sea lions consume large quantities of food at a time and are known to eat about 5–8% of their body weight (about 15–35 lb (6.8–16 kg)) at a single feeding.