From Santa Cruz.
The famous Galápagos tortoises were part of Charles Darwin’s inspiration for the theory of natural selection as the mechanism of evolution. The tortoises’ shells differ depending on what island they are from, indicating adaptive radiation.
For me, they were part of my inspiration to travel the world and see all its wonders.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration
This is Darwin Lake, a salt water lake that sits within a tuff cone on Isabela. It’s a pretty good hike from the Tagus Cove landing site, but the tranquil view was worth it. You can see our ship, the Coral I, and its sister ship Coral II anchored just off shore.
As you have surely guessed, the lake is named for Charles Darwin, who visited Tagus Cove in 1835.
Weekly Photo Challenge: Serenity
Can you spot the bird? At Tagus Cove, we hiked up to see Darwin Lake, a saltwater lagoon in a tuff cone, named for the Galápagos Islands’ most famous visitor. This little bird is probably one of the famous finch species also colloquially named for Darwin.
From Charles Darwin Research Station, Puerto Ayora, Santa Cruz Island.
This is one of the famous Galápagos tortoises (Chelonoidis spp.). There are many living in the wild on the islands, but this one happens to be at the research station in the island’s most populous town.
The tortoise is one of the famous examples of evolution on the islands–that is, tortoises have slight genetic variations on different islands. Some of these species (or subspecies–opinions differ on how to classify them) are dying out, due to historical exploitation and the tortoises’ naturally slow growth rate. Therefore, some animals are kept in captivity primarily to manage populations, generally by trying to breed the most genetically similar animals together, such as in the case of Lonesome George.
Research on these gentle giants is still ongoing at the Charles Darwin Research Station. One recent success story is the Española tortoise (C. hoodensis), which has been repatriated following a breeding program, and is now reproducing successfully in the wild again.