It was through observing the unique and diverse wildlife of the Galapagos Islands that led Charles Darwin to come up with the theory of evolution. These 17 isolated, oceanic oases have been declared a national park and even today, only 5 of the islands are inhabited. The archipelago is the result of fairly recent volcanic surges from the sea floor that remain very active, particularly Isabela Island. The coastal fringe is made up of lava reefs and boulders, because the water is too cold for coral formation. The islands don't have that many good spots although further exploration may reveal more. Most of the reefs are sharp and the very clear water makes it hard to figure out exactly how deep it is. The water is actually the coldest equatorial water on earth, due to the Humboldt Current working its way up the coastline of South America and past the islands, bringing with it water from Antarctica. This water is nutrient rich explaining the attraction for the prolific marine wildlife. The predominant
S-SE trade winds mean that the most consistent good quality spots are to be found on the north facing shores.