Santa Cruz Island

Sep 21, 2018 - National Geographic Islander

Today after disembarking in the capital town of Puerto Ayora we took a short bus ride and walk, and arrived at the Galapagos National Park Breeding Center. Puerto Ayora is the base for the two main institutions that work as partners in the preservation of this enchanted archipelago: The Galapagos National Park Service (GNPS), which is an Ecuadorian governmental organization, and the world-renowned Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS), both established in 1959. The latter institution works in the processes of collecting, incubating, reproducing, and ultimately saving some of the vanishing Galapagos giant tortoise subspecies from extinction. We watched in fascination the many little juvenile tortoises that, as adults, will repopulate the islands little by little with their descendants.

After visiting the Darwin Center, we had the pleasure of strolling along the colorful streets of Puerto Ayora. We enjoyed and took part in community activities. Later that morning, we traveled to the highlands to continue with the planned activities of the day. Before lunch we made a couple of brief but meaningful stops before arriving at a restaurant for lunch. A couple of groups visited a traditional sugar cane press where a local Galápagos family showed us how they make a living by growing and processing sugar cane and coffee on their property. Another group visited the Tomas de Berlanga School that Lindblad Expeditions / National Geographic support.

After lunch, we searched for Galapagos giant tortoises in their natural habitat. They were all over the place! We had a great time photographing and observing many of these gentle giants. In the evening after dinner, local dancers and musicians came onboard and put a golden finale to the day with jubilant music and choreography.

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About the Author

Carlos Romero

Expedition Leader

Carlos was born in Quito, Ecuador and grew up in Venezuela, where he lived for many years near the ocean and later the rainforest. He returned to Quito to study biology and specialized in the fauna of Ecuador. His main field of study was zoology with an emphasis on vertebrates. He has a doctorate in biology and a master’s in ecotourism and natural protected areas management. He designed a new curriculum for the largest university in Ecuador, the Central University— a masters in environmental management and administration of natural protected areas. Carlos has also taken part in various scientific projects and expeditions with the Biological Sciences Department of Quito’s Polytechnic University. He has published several scientific papers, including one about the bats of Galápagos and one about the vampire bat of mainland Ecuador.

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