tortoises are probably the most famous inhabitants of the Galapagos
Islands and are the origin of the islands' name.
by Roz Gordon, taken
on Santa Cruz Island at the Chato
different subspecies of Galapagos tortoise unique to particular islands
or even to specific regions of one island. Some of the
subspecies of Galapagos giant tortoises were made extinct by the
whaling fleet in the 19th Century. The sailors took hundreds
of thousands of the Galapagos tortoises to eat, because the
giant creatures could remain alive, upside down, for a considerable
time on board the whaling ships, to be used for fresh meat even after
weeks at sea. In this way the numbers of giant
Galapagos tortoises was reduced from around 250,000 to just
fifteen thousand or so now.
Galapagos Hawk about to
land on a giant Galapagos Tortoise
Galapagos tortoises can live for 150 years or more and may weigh as
much as 250kg. The most famous, Lonesome George, lives on the
island of Santa Cruz, at the Charles Darwin Research Station.
Lonesome George is thought to be the only surviving Pinta
tortoise. The research station has a programme to
care for the baby Galapagos tortoises until they are large enough to
have a good chance of survival on their own, in order to boost the
population of these giant land tortoises.
eat plants and fruits
giant Galapagos land tortoise is vegetarian, eating various different
types of plants including prickly cactus.
more information about the Galapagos tortoise, evolution or Charles
Darwin, see our suggested Galapagos
Tortoise Photo Gallery
of the giant Galapagos tortoise by professional photographer Roz Gordon
photos from the Galapagos Islands