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Tropical connection

The Galapagos Islands might be thousands of miles from New Mexico, but the similarities between the two are greater than you might think.

This resemblance is the reason the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science chose “Galapagos: Nature’s Wonderland 3D” for its five-story screen in its DynaTheater.

“There’s actually a lot of parallels between New Mexico’s natural history, the diversity of species here and some of the geologic formations to the Galapagos, and so, although it’s a story of a small series of islands in the middle of the ocean, there are a lot of parallels to what are considered land islands within our state,” said Deb Novak, director of education for the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. “There are areas that have species that only live there that have changed significantly from the species around them due to the geology and the vegetation that occur in that small area.”

The Galapagos are volcanic islands and New Mexico is a volcanic state, Novak said.

“We actually have more types of volcanoes in New Mexico than Hawaii; we just don’t have any active ones,” Novak said. “There’s no running lava here now, but we have the lava flows from the recent past all the way back into long ago. We have evidence of large volcanoes as in Valles Caldera and we have lava flows down in the Valley of Fires. We have here in New Mexico our string of five cinder cones along the edge of the city. All of these things, for us as scientists, link the Galapagos to New Mexico and, for us, as a museum and a foundation sharing a movie, it makes this movie relevant to share with the greater world, but also to bring home the message of what’s right here in our backyard.”

The film features a bird’s-eye view of the Galapagos, as well as the islands’ birds, including tropical albatross, blue-footed boobies, penguins and flightless cormorants. It also showcases its sea life and reptiles, including fish, half-ton tortoises and pink iguanas that are exclusive to the Galapagos.

“We have cormorants that migrate through New Mexico and you can go visit them at Bosque del Apache,” Novak said. “So, again, being able to do direct comparisons of things that we can see in our own backyard is pretty cool.”

This summer, the museum will offer a summer camp built around the connections between the Galapagos Islands and New Mexico. The camp, from June 26 to 30, is open to third- to fifth-grade students. Other family programming and educational programs that support the film also are in the works. For more information and to register for the camp, click here.