Why the islands took the name from the Galapagos Giant Tortoise?
The Galapagos Giant Tortoise is the most abundant species in the archipelago, and from which the islands take their name. The islands were discovered accidentally by the Spanish navigators, and gave them the name of these reptiles that were very numerous on the islands. Galápagos comes from Latin and is synonymous with turtle.
Galapagos Giant Tortoises Species
Isla Pinta Giant Tortoise- Chelonoidis abingdonii (extinguida)
They are characterized by having a longer neck, and by the special shape of its shell. The front of its shell is narrower and slightly raised, while the back is wider and rounder.
This allows him to reach the lower part of the cactus, which were the basis of his diet. The appearance of goats on the island, which fed on the same vegetation, and their capture by sailors who frequented the island, led them to extinction. The Solitaire George, was the last specimen of his species. Despite several attempts to reproduce the species, George’s sexual apathy did not allow the species to be saved. Just the opposite of our friend Diego, which we will tell you later.
Wolf Volcano Giant Tortoise-Chelonoidis becki
Its shell has a grayish color of about one meter in length, and more rounded, since it feeds on low vegetation. Its natural habitat is found on the slopes of Wolf Volcano, and inside its crater. They have a life expectancy of 60 years. The thick and arid vegetation of the area has provided them with food, as well as protecting them from humans and other invasive species. They are considered a species derived from two species that inhabited the volcano: one on the north face and another on the south side. Currently there are about 2,000 copies, although historically it is estimated that there were 25,000 copies.
San Cristóbal Giant Tortoise- Chelonoidis chathamensis
It has a carapace of greater height and flattened in its upper part, with the front raised to be able to feed on elevated vegetation. They are estimated to have a life expectancy between 100 and 150 years. The species, which reached 25,000 specimens, suffered a brutal extermination during the seventeenth and nineteenth centuries, until its population was reduced to 800 copies at the beginning of the 70s. Currently about 1,800 specimens inhabit the northeast part of the Island of San Cristobal.
Tortuga gigante de Santiago – Chelonoidis darwini
The most tropical vegetation of the island, gives the darkest color to its shell and its skin. The species suffered the invasion of goats and pigs, as well as furtive capture. At the same time, the appearance of invasive vegetation (avocado, naranjilla and blackberry) much thicker than the endemic one, made its mobility difficult for the island in search of food. After being reduced to about 700 specimens in the studies carried out in the 70s, currently about 250 specimens are raised in the breeding center of Santa Cruz. Since the eradication of goats and pigs in the late 1990s, turtles reproduce again in the wild, and can easily be found along the island.
Santa Cruz Giant Tortoise- Chelonoidis porteri
Inhabits the western part of the island, known as La Reserva. Until 2015 the same species was considered to all the turtles of the island, but since 2015 this species was separated from those of the eastern part, called since that time Chelonoidis donfaustoi in honor of its discoverer. The upper part of the island is inhabited by males, and as we descend we can find the offspring and females of this species. They are characterized by their black and oval carapace, just over one meter long, with a vaulted form higher in the center than in the front, and open at the front.
Tortuga gigante de Pinzón – Chelonoidis duncanensis
The front of its carapace is narrower and slightly raised, while the back is wider and rounder. This evolutionary development of its carapace is due to the dry and high vegetation of the island, formed mainly by elevated scrub and cactus. This form allows you to reach higher vegetation than other species. Like most species, it was strongly affected by the invasion of the island by the black rat. Its eradication in 2012 has allowed the population to grow again, especially thanks to the breeding centers, which have repatriated more than 200 turtles since 2015.
Española Giant Tortoise- Chelonoidis hoodensis
Like all species on the island, it has been the result of stealth. So much so that in the study conducted in the 70s there were only 14 copies, of which only 2 were male and too old to reproduce. Then … Diego appeared! He was in a zoo in San Diego, and was repatriated to the Galapagos, where he stayed at the Puerto Ayora land turtle breeding center. Diego went to work and since then about 800 copies of turtles have been repatriated to the Spanish Island! All a phenomenon Diego. If you visit Santa Cruz, do not forget to visit it in Puerto Ayora, and pay your respects XD.
Fernandina Giant Tortoise – Chelonoidis phantasticus (extinguida)
This species is believed extinct. However, unlike other species, it is not due to poachers but to the difficulties of the island, with high volcanic activity, and very arid, so the vegetation is very scarce. However, in a study of 2013 traces were found that may contradict this opinion. The difficult access and movement along the island has not allowed a deep analysis of the island.
Floreana Giant Tortoise – Chelonoidis niger
At the beginning of the 19th century it is estimated that there were about 8,000 specimens, but their depredation by the sailors was so rare that they became extinct in the mid-nineteenth century. The turtles were very appreciated by the sailors for their tasty meat, the ease of transporting them on the boats, and the possibility of producing oil for birth with them. When Darwin visited the island in 1835, I did not find any specimen. However, later studies have found examples around the Wolf volcano that are considered hybrid between this species and that of the Wolf volcano.
Cerro Azul Giant Tortoise – Chelonoidis vicina
Is also know as Isabela Giant Tortoise. It has a thick carapace, heavy, vaulted, and not much reduced before. The males are larger; females have more dome shape. The species inhabits two thirds of the southern part of the island, and it is estimated that there are currently about 2,500 specimens.