2018 Photo Contest, Nature, 3rd prize

Galapagos: Rocking the Cradle


Thomas P. Peschak

22 August, 2016

Tourists snorkel near a Galapagos sea lion, off Wolf Island, Galapagos. During warm-water El Niño events, the small fish that are the sea lions’ chief food disappear, leaving the animals weak and susceptible to disease.

Four major ocean currents converge along the Galapagos archipelago, creating the conditions for an extraordinary diversity of animal life. The islands are home to at least 7,000 flora and fauna species, of which 97 percent of the reptiles, 80 percent of the land birds, 50 percent of the insects and 30 percent of the plants are endemic. The local ecosystem is highly sensitive to the changes in temperature, rainfall and ocean currents that characterize the climatic events known as El Niño and La Niña. These changes cause marked fluctuations in weather and food availability. Many scientists expect the frequency of El Niño and La Niña to increase as a result of climate change, making the Galapagos a possible early-warning location for its effects.

About the photographer

Thomas P. Peschak

Thomas P. Peschak is a National Geographic Photographer and National Geographic Explorer who specializes in documenting both the beauty and fragility of the world's oceans, i...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
15.0 mm

This image is collected in