City: Galapagos Island, Ecuador
Kilometres ridden: 0
Cumulative kilometre: 33130
The plan for today didn’t involve any snorkelling. We would stay in the harbour until the evening and seven new guests would join us. In the morning we went to the visit the Charles Darwin Research Station, which was in walking distance from the jetty we landed on. During our zodiac ride, we saw some sea lions resting on boats, particular on boats which had been stationary for a while.
After landing we walked to the research station, had a look at an exhibition and went then to the turtle breeding ground.
The Darwin foundation is dedicated to the conversation of the Galapagos Islands. Here they had a breading program for giant tortoises. To increase the survival of the young tortoises, they collect the eggs after the female puts them into a nest. They then pack them carefully and bring them to the Darwin Research station, where they are put into an incubator. The gender of the tortoises is defined by the temperature, if the average temperature is cooler the egg becomes a male and if the average temperature is warmer the eggs became female. With the experience over many years, the survival rate of the eggs is close to 100%. The young tortoises are staying in the protective areas until they are four years old and then they are released back onto the island. Using this method, tortoises specific to an island and on the brink of extinction are brought back. And here are the young tortoises from one island.
There are other tortoises as well, mostly tortoises which humans have moved from one island to another. Where this happend they often created hybrids. So these tortoises are kept seperate , they are 70 years or older.
Then we moved to an area where the saddleback turtles are keept. They live in the lowlands where their food is higher up, which is the reason for the long neck and for the dent in the front of the shell.
It is hard to show the real size but with some people in the picture you can imagine how large they are.
On our way back to the jetty, we passed a fish market during its sale. The guys were cutting up the fish that people bought. They were accompanied by seals, pelicans and a blue footed booby.
The cut-offs were given to the animals around.
That was quiet entertaining particular when the sea lion started to claim his territory and shooed the birds away.
We back to the boat and to meet our new fellow travellers. They came from Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Sweden. After lunch and a short break, we went back onto land, this time to a farm where the giant tortoises roam freely and to see some lava tubes. It had started to rain when we arrived at the fish market and hadn’t stopped since. At the farm they were prepared for the rain and provided rubber boots for us. I think we look great in them.
But before we started our excursion we had a look at a shell of a giant turtle. On the right picture you can see that the spine is still connected to the shell.
We had to see if we fit, luckly nobody got stuck :p
Then we went to the lava tubes, this particular tube had another lava tube above it. The lave tubes are created when the lave flows down to the sea and the outer layer started to cool off.
Then we had a look at the free giant tortoises, which were roaming around here, uh, freely. This time of the year is the mating season, so we saw turtles mating. In this particular case, the male got the front and back of the female mixed up. It took a while for him to figure it out.
In the picture below a male is chasing a female…. veeeeery slowly 🙂
It was time for us to leave again, so we went back to the farm, had a coffee and changed back into our normal gear. The birds where just sitting close to the coffee table, so I thought I take a picture of them.
We couldn’t resist playing with the shells again.
On the way back to the jetty, we had to walk around a sea lion lying on the pathway.
After dinner we sailed to Floreana Island, which we would explore tomorrow morning.