This week, erosion
caused Darwin's Arch, one of the most photographed locations in the Galapagos Islands
, to crumble into the Pacific Ocean
The Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment
tweeted a photo of what was left of the formation, which was about a half mile off Darwin Island
We regret to inform you that on May 17, 2021, the Arco de Darwin, an attractive natural bridge
located less than a kilometer from the main Darwin island, the most northern of the Galapagos archipelago, collapsed as a result of natural erosion. — Héctor Barrera pic.twitter.com/lBZJWNbgHg — Ministerio de Ambiente y Agua de Ecuador (@Ambiente_Ec)
While the island itself is not accessible to tourists, the area around the arch is a popular destination for divers looking to see aquatic life, including sharks, according to the organization.
Darwin's Arch in the #GalapagosIslands has collapsed. A magnificent piece of natural beauty, our researchers were no strangers to it as they studied whale sharks and other sharks there. As our team prepares to return, it will be a vastly different site to see. https://t.co/fckYemY3e4
Aquarium (@GeorgiaAquarium) May 18, 2021
“It truly was an icon of the Galápagos landscape and a marker for one of the most awe-inspiring wildlife
experiences on Earth,” Jen Jones of the Galápagos Conservation
Trust told The Guardian, adding that the waters around it are home to some of the world’s largest shark aggregations.
“The collapse of the arch is a reminder of how fragile our world is,” Jones told the newspaper, adding, “While there is little that we as humans can do to stop geological processes such as erosion, we can strive to protect the islands’ valuable marine life.”
Both the island and the arch were named after Charles Darwin, whose 1835 visit inspired his seminal theories of natural selection.
The islands are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because they are "a unique living museum and showcase of evolution."
The collapse was witnessed by some of Aggressor Adventures' customers, according to a post on Facebook
“There are now only two pillars remaining, which some in the dive and travel industry are already referring to as ‘The Pillars of Evolution,’” the company wrote. “We will miss this iconic site.”