A world-famous rock formation has plummeted into waters off the Galapagos Islands.
The loss of Darwin’s Arch was confirmed by Ecuador’s environment ministry to have occurred on Monday (local time).
“We report that the iconic Arc of Darwin collapsed,” they wrote in Spanish.
Photos of the site, shared to social media, show that while the top of the arch has collapsed, two high rock pillars remain.
“This event would be a consequence of natural erosion,” the ministry added.
The formation has long been popular with tourists, including divers, photographers and visiting cruise ships.
Heartbroken nature lovers have responded on social media, sharing their dismay at the loss.
“I guess I just don’t like change,” one person wrote.
“Oh no… how sad,” someone else responded.
Another person added an unusual suggestion to the loss of the great arch.
“Please create a replica to keep the memories alive,” they wrote.
Loss of Darwin's Arch could create habitat beneath
The arch was named after British naturalist Charles Darwin who developed his theory of evolution while visiting the Galapagos in the nineteenth century.
Tourists were forbidden from setting foot on the rocky structure which stood at the northernmost tip of the Galapagos Islands, a volcanic archipelago in the Pacific Ocean, 965 km west of Ecuador.
The nearby islands are home to a number of endemic species including a giant tortoise, and a pink iguana as well as various birds and marine animals.
While the arch is no more, the rock will contribute to the reef below, creating habitat for fish and hammerhead sharks which live below.
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