Monday, February 9, 2015

Tortoise Nirvana

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This is why I came to the Galapagos. Giant Tortoise spotting. There’s a family picture somewhere of me at the London Zoo riding a giant Galapagos Tortoise when I was a wee kid. These guys are pretty stately. At 80 or 100 years old, they still move like teenagers – teenage land tortoises. They estimate that before the European ships started to arrive on San Cristobol, the island was home to 100,000 tortoises. Each inhabited island now has a ‘Galapagueria’, such as this one, dedicated to breeding and re-introduction of the tortoises.

cristobolIMG_6856 Check the size of these compared to my large stature. I’m wearing my Del Mar Race Track t-shirt to impress the folks at the Tortoise Races. 

cristobolIMG_6832  This guy is running off at the race start.

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Enjoying the limelight in the winners circle.

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In a very strange Darwinian twist, the Galapagos Tortoises are born with an early form of yellow bar-code on their shells.

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OK, it is hard to see and bit voyeuristic, but here’s two Giant Galapagos Tortoises making baby tortoises. Its a lot of work with a lot of grunting and hissing involved.

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We hiked to the top of Mount Junco in the mist. You can see the shoreline in the haze. Junco is an extinct volcano with a large lake in the caldera. All the Galapagos islands are remnants of extinct, and some not quite extinct, volcanoes.

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The caldera lake is the only freshwater source that is continuous year-round on the island.

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Frigate birds fly up here after a tough day of stealing fish from other birds down by the sea to wash themselves in the fresh water.

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The shore view from up high after the mist clears off.

Paul

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