Darwin's Arch in the Galápagos Islands Has Collapsed, Leaving Locals Devastated

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May. 20 2021, Published 11:21 a.m. ET

Galápagos locals, travel enthusiasts, and environmentalists around the world are absolutely devastated after a famous structure located 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador has crumbled into the Pacific Ocean. The iconic landmark, known as Darwin's Arch, is no longer standing in its signature arch formation. Current photographs that depict the collapse of Darwin's Arch represent the end of an era, and many can't help but wonder what exactly happened.

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"Unfortunately today, our guests of the Galapagos Aggressor III experienced a once in a lifetime event," reads a Facebook post from a tour company called Aggressor Adventures, which was leading a tour group by the arch as it collapsed, as per CNN. "This morning at 11:20 a.m. local time, the world famous Darwin's Arch collapsed in front of their eyes... Some in the dive and travel industry are already referring to this now as 'The Pillars of Evolution.' We will miss this iconic site."

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Why did Darwin's Arch collapse?

For once, it seems as though human activity isn't entirely to blame for this devastating occurrence. According to AccuWeather, officials believe that Darwin's Arch mostly collapsed due to natural erosion, which is simply caused by the passage of time. The rock formation, which used to be compared to a natural bridge or an arch, was previously named in honor of scientist Charles Darwin, who conducted quite a bit of research on the Galápagos.

However, severe weather patterns — which are brought on by global warming — can also cause erosion. So in that sense, human activity may have indirectly played a role in the arch's demise. El Niño, which increases the temperatures of the Pacific ocean every few years, can also supposedly play a part in the degradation of natural land masses as such, and so can the fact that the islands are within close proximity to various ocean currents, which pull in three different directions.

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Footage of Darwin's Arch now is shocking.

Passengers aboard the Galapagos Aggressor III at the time of Darwin's Arch's collapse have yet to publicly post a video or live footage of the chaos. However, many who have traveled to the area before or since have taken to social media to post pictures, documenting the arch before and after.

"The collapse of the arch is a reminder of how fragile our world is," said Galápagos Conservation Trust's Jen Jones, as per The Guardian.

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"While there is little that we as humans can do to stop geological processes such as erosion, we can endeavor to protect the islands' precious marine life," she continued.

Although it isn't necessarily the jaw-dropping structure it once was, Darwin's Arch is still surrounded by bright blue waters, a wide range of bird species, and many undersea creatures — it's impossible to ignore the beauty in that. Take a look at the photos of Darwin's Arch, before and after its destruction, below.

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Luckily, the Galápagos Islands are as beautiful as ever, and conservationists are now taking the time to rewild and restore its natural beauty — that said, despite Darwin's Arch's collapse, the South American destination is still high up on our bucket list.

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