Lindblad Expeditions - From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galapagos - Juan Carlos Ávila, naturalist; Photo: Jeffo Márque

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From the National Geographic Endeavour in Galapagos

Nov 8, 2012 - National Geographic Endeavour

Galapagos Giant Tortoise

Santa Cruz Island

So far our expedition has been amazing! We have seen practically everything the Galapagos Islands can offer. These islands are a real paradise for the wildlife observer. The ocean is home to myriads of marine mammals; such as sea lions, dolphins, whales and sea birds.

With high expectations today, we visited Santa Cruz Island. Here, we disembarked in the morning and paid a visit to the Charles Darwin research station. This institution has been carrying out research since the 1960’s. Its legacy for mankind in terms of knowledge is invaluable.

This morning we visited the giant tortoises, some from Santa Cruz and others from different islands. Here we carry out breeding programs in order to restore the populations of reptiles whose small numbers make then vulnerable to predators. The threats for these iconic reptiles are feral pigs and rats.

The main human settlement on Santa Cruz is Puerto Ayora. This vibrant town happens to be the economic capital of the Galápagos. It is the main port as well. This island has other smaller settlements in the highlands where people do farming and cattle ranching.

The giant tortoises are distributed on most of Santa Cruz and the highlands are part of their range of distribution. These large reptiles are actually forest dwellers because the vegetation at this altitude is always green with abundant fresh grass and ponds. These are vital conditions for the Santa Cruz giant tortoises.

It was a great day; I can’t wait to explore more places!