Santa Cruz Island

May 23, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

We are having a fabulous time in the Galapagos Archipelago. Today we anchored off Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz Island to visit the iconic Giant tortoises at the Galapagos National Park Facilities and we also explored the forests and farming areas that are part of the highlights of this Island.

At the breeding center there are tiny baby tortoise and adult breeding individuals from different islands; baby tortoises born here are part of the restoration programs carried out by the Galapagos National Park Service since the seventies. These little tortoises will be repatriated to their home islands once they are five years old. Their home islands are their final destination where they will spend the rest of their lives!

In the late morning we took buses to explore the highlights of the highlands and tortoise reserve: such as the green forest, the birds, the lava tunnel and the majestic giant tortoises. These reptiles have made a great come back since conservation work started on the Galapagos. For centuries they were taken as food by voyagers that frequented the islands. Some of them were whale and seal hunters.

As we explored the cloud forest and grasslands we begun to find tortoises and in a few minutes we found a lot!  This region is home to many of the native and endemic species of plants and animals that inhabit the Galapagos, such as: Darwin’s finches, mocking birds, pintail ducks and giant tortoises.

It’s estimated that there are more than 5000 giant tortoises living on this island!

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About the Author

Juan Carlos Avila

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Juan Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador. He spent part of his elementary schooling in the province of Cotopaxi, a beautiful area in the Ecuadorian Andes ringed by volcanoes. In 1989 his family moved to the Galápagos and settled in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the second largest island in this archipelago. It was here that Juan Carlos finished high school and gained his deep love for nature.

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