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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Galapagos Islands: Charles Darwin Research Station & Famous Giant Tortoises

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PUERTO AYORA ON SANTA CRUZ ISLAND

Near the busy town of Puerto Ayora, which has the largest human population in the archipelago, is the Charles Darwin Research Station. Scientists work here for conservation of the islands flora and fauna and to support research on the archipelago. The education side of the station allows you to go in and view some of the Giant Tortoises in their enclosure. There were about 6 in the one we were allowed to enter. Seeing these 500 pound ancient tortoises was awesome.

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MR. ROGUE AND I NEXT TO A GIANT TORTOISE

The Giant Tortoises are the most famous species of the Galapagos Islands but the discovery by man has taken the population from 250,000 to the 20,000 that exist today. The Charles Darwin Research Station in 1965 began a breeding program for the tortoises that has been successful.

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BABY GIANT TORTOISE EATING A PIECE OF PLANT THE SIZE OF CELERY

During nesting season scientists using GPS devices find the locations of nests and flag them. About four months later, right before the eggs are about to hatch a second trip is scheduled to retrieve the eggs. Hatchlings are then marked and kept together with other tortoises from the same island, there are on average about 1900 kept in captivity, until they are old enough to have a good chance of surviving.

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MARKED AND LEFT TO GROW IN SAFETY

The program then releases tortoises back to the original location of their nests. Thanks to this head start the survival rate of the Giant Tortoises has dramatically increased.

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THEY ARE BORN TOO SMALL NOT TO BE VULNERABLE
photo credit www.tattoo6.angeknuepft.de


Although the number of tortoises in the wild has increased from 3,000 in 1974 to 20,000 today there is still much work to be done.

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DOING BETTER IN THE WILD BUT STILL A TON OF WORK

2 comments:

Cortney said...

Mr. Bulldog and I have loved looking at all your Galapagos pictures! The tortoises are just amazing!

paul peggy zeus said...

Look how cute the baby is!! Great photos.

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